Dianne Wilkerson, 55, served for 15 years in the Massachusetts state senate ... until the FBI caught her stuffing a cash bribe into her bra during an undercover sting operation. Wilkerson, a Democrat, accepted a total of $23,500 in exchange for securing a liquor license for a nightclub and for proposing legislation that would help a businessman develop state property. One of the spots Wilkerson took a bribe? The Fill-A-Buster restaurant, a few blocks from the Massachusetts state house. According to the indictment, Wilkerson told the informant that she would withhold raises for liquor board members until they delivered the informant's license. She then pocketed $1,000.
Wilkerson pled guilty to eight counts of attempted extortion in June 2010. Her sentencing was scheduled for September but has been postponed. She faces up to 160 years.
John Ford, a former Tennessee state senator for 30 years and a member of the Ford family Democratic political dynasty, was arrested in 2007 along with other Tennessee state legislators in connection with the FBI's Operation Tennessee Waltz. Federal agents posed as representatives of E-Cycle Management, a fake company that recycled electronics to third-world countries, and offered state legislators money in exchange for supporting legislation that would benefit E-Cycle. Ford, now 68, accepted the largest amount of money, $55,000. He told an undercover agent, "You are talking to the guy that makes the deals."
Ford was convicted of bribery and sentenced to 66 months in prison. He was acquitted on charges of witness intimidation after reportedly telling an undercover agent, "If you're FBI, I will shoot you and kill you." Ford's lawyer argued the statement was taken out of context. Ford also faced additional corruption charges in an unrelated case involving misreporting over $800,000 he received from contractors overseeing the state's medical insurance. After being convicted in association with Operation Tennessee Waltz, he was convicted in the second case as well, earning him an extra 14 years in prison.
Ray Sansom, former Florida Speaker of the House, awaits trial on charges of grand theft and conspiracy. Sansom, 48, served 14 years in the House but lasted only two months as Speaker, resigning the top post in January 2009 right before his fellow Republicans could oust him. He was indicted in April 2009, accused of diverting $6 million in taxpaxer money to fund an airport hangar that would house a campaign donor's corporate jet. The $6 million allegedly came out of the state's education fund because the hangar was to be located at Northwest Florida State College. Sansom had accepted a six-figure job at the school the same day he was sworn in as speaker.
Sansom has since resigned from the House. He has pled not guilty and is awaiting trial. His lawyers rejected a plea deal in July 2010 and filed a motion to remove the State Attorney prosecuting the case. The motion was denied.