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Three Tennessee Waltz Defendants from Memphis get their voting rights restored

MEMPHIS, Tenn.-- Three well-known elected leaders from Memphis convicted in the high-profile Operation Tennessee Waltz case years ago celebrate what they call a court victory involving their right to vote.

"What this means I am back in America. I'm an American. I paid my debt. It was difficult for me. Oh man, I thought I was going to die. Having been a politician voting was very important to me. It should be important to everybody anyway," Dixon said.

The voting rights have been restored for former State Senator Roscoe Dixon, former Shelby County Commissioner Michael Hooks, Senior, and former State Senator John Ford.

Ford didn't attend this news conference, but Dixon and Hooks did, along with their attorney Walter Bailey.

"I tried to stay off the radar. My wife was still in government and I didn't want my name to come up. Today, I stand here with the relief the elephant is off my back," Hooks said.

"They got their rights restored to vote, serve on juries and participate in the political process," Bailey said.

Eleven people were convicted of bribery in Operation Tennessee Waltz and the videos showing them accepting bribes.

Dixon, Hooks and Ford served time in federal prison for their crimes.

They have since been released and are working. It was also the first time they talked publicly about violating the public's trust and their roles in life today.

"I apologize for any wrong doings I might have done and I did that unequivocally without any buts, ifs, and. I apologize. I did my time. I did not complain," Hooks said.

"I want to help young men particularly African-Americans who don't know where to go, whites and Hispanics or anyone else who has the right to get their rights restored, but don't know how," Dixon said.

It's a message they hope will reach other ex-felons who have paid their debts to society.

"This is what we are all here to bring to the light. if we can do it,
they can,too."

Even though Dixon, Hooks, and  Ford have their right to vote, they can't run for office.