Derrick Shepherd, who resigned his state senate seat in 2008 before pleading guilty to money laundering charges, is attempting a comeback with a run for his former state House seat.
Shepherd’s run for the House District 87 seat is barred by a state law that prevents convicted felons from running state office. But the former lawmaker, who served two years in federal prison, said in a press release he plans to challenge that prohibition as unconstitutional.
“My campaign will offer hope to many citizens who have made a mistake that they too can receive a second chance in life,” Shepherd said.
Shepherd filed to qualify for the election Thursday afternoon, the last day to sign up to run for state office.
After filing his qualifying paperwork, Shepherd said that since his release from jail he has spoken with numerous church groups, youth groups and civic organizations.
“I admitted what I did was wrong, I owned it, I didn’t hide from it and so I found people were willing to give me a second chance,” he said.
Shepherd said he was prepared to argue against the constitutionality of a state constitutional amendment approved by the voters that bars convicted felons from running for state office for 15 years. While he declined to go into details, he said that if his candidacy was challenged in court he could demonstrate that “what voters voted on was not the real bill.”
Shepherd pleaded guilty to laundering more than $140,000 from the sale of fake bonds in 2008 and served two years in prison. He was serving his first term in the state senate at the time. He had previously served in the House.
House District 87 is currently represented by Ebony Woodruff, who also filed to qualify Thursday. Woodruff, an attorney, was elected to the seat after Shepherd’s successor, Girod Jackson, resigned after being charged with fraud and failure to pay taxes.
Rodney Lyons Sr., previously the president of the Woodmere Civic Association, is the other candidate in the race.
Follow Jeff Adelson on Twitter, @jadelson.