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Dallas Commissioner Took Nearly $1M in Bribes: Indictment

Price, associates plead not guilty in court Friday

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    NEWSLETTERS

    John Wiley Price was first elected in 1984, making history as Dallas County's first African-American commissioner. (Published Friday, Jul 25, 2014)

    Longtime Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price was arrested Friday and charged with taking $950,000 in bribes in what prosecutors say was a scheme to use his position on the commissioner's court to enrich himself.

    A 13-count indictment unsealed Friday names Price, his longtime chief of staff Dapheny Elaine Fain and two political consultants, Kathy Louise Nealy and Christian Lloyd Campbell.

    Price and Nealy are accused of conspiracy to commit bribery, mail fraud and tax evasion. Campbell is accused of participating in the conspiracy.

    Price and Fain are accused of running a business that provided Price with another $133,000 that was never reported on income taxes.

    In total, Price is accused of receiving around $1,150,000 in bribes and other taxable income from several sources that was concealed or disguised, according to the indictment.

    Price, 64, was arrested at about 8 a.m. Friday. His associates were also placed into federal custody and held until a 1 p.m. hearing, where they all pleaded not guilty. All four were then released on personal recognizance.

    As he left the courthouse Friday, Price would only say that he was not guilty and was ready to get back to work.

    Price will remain in office unless he is convicted in the case.

    U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldana said at a Friday morning news conference that during a decade-long scheme, Price's two political consultants, Nealy and Campbell, provided him with money, cars and land. In exchange for the bribes, Price voted in favor of lucrative contracts before the commissioners court that were proposed by the consultants' clients, Saldana said.

    "Price corruptly solicited and demanded a series of benefits ... to award contracts for Dallas County business," U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldana

    The payout for Price, according to Saldana: More than $447,000 in cash and checks, the use of a new Chevy Avalanche every four years, nearly $200,000 from property secretly bought for Price and a BMW 645Ci convertible, including insurance, worth $191,000.

    "These types of actions can diminish the public's trust and cost taxpayers money and resources," said Diego Rodriguez, the special agent in charge of the FBI's Dallas office.

    NBC 5 obtained the unsealed indictment Friday morning and outlined the 13 counts against Price, Fain, Nealy and Campbell below: 

    • Count 1 — Conspiracy to commit bribery concerning a local government receiving federal benefits by Price, Nealy and Campbell. The maximum penalty is five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
    • Counts 2-7 — Deprivation of honest services by mail fraud and aiding and abetting by both Price and Nealy. The maximum penalty is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
    • Count 8 — Conspiracy to defraud the Internal Revenue Service by Price, Nealy and Fain. The maximum penalty is five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
    • Counts 9-11 — Subscribing to a false and fraudulent U.S. individual income tax return for the years 2007, 2008 and 2009. According to the indictment, Price reported income of $104,770 in 2007, $109,124 in 2008 and $109,758 in 2009. Investigators said in each year Price "received additional substantial income." The maximum penalty is three years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
    • Count 12 — Attempt to evade or defeat payment of tax by Nealy. The maximum penalty is five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
    • Count 13 — False statement by Fain. The maximum penalty is five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

    The FBI raided Price’s office and home three years ago and made its corruption investigation public.

    Recently, NBC 5 reporter Scott Gordon tried to question Price about the investigation and was nearly run over.

    FBI agents had laid out various allegations against Price —including bribery, tax fraud, bankruptcy fraud and money laundering — in previously released court documents.

    Until Friday's arrest and indictment, however, no charges had been filed after the June 2011 high-profile raids.

    Reaction to Price's arrest has been mixed, as some elected officials offer support while others hope justice is served, should corruption be proven.

    Price, the first black member of the Dallas County Commissioner's Court, is the body's longest-tenured member, having served since taking office Jan. 1, 1985. He is affectionately known as "Our Man Downtown" and is often been a controversial and polarizing figure in Dallas County politics.

    NBC 5's Ken Kalthoff and Scott Gordon contributed to this report.

    CLICK HERE for complete coverage of the FBI investigation into John Wiley Price

    For more on this story from our partners at The Dallas MorninG News, CLICK HERE.