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Our Man Downtown

Commissioner Price indicted, community continues to rally

The Dallas Examiner and The Associated Press | 8/1/2014, 5:31 p.m.
“There are not many people that know that he adopted two crack babies,” said local activist Russell Fish of Commissioner ...
Left Photo: Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price answers questions during a news conference on June 30. Right Photo: Commissioner John Wiley Price is chased by media as he leaves the federal courthouse on Friday. Federal authorities charged Price with accepting nearly $1 million in bribes in exchange for providing insider information and voting in favor of certain projects. Evans Caglage

The Dallas Examiner and The Associated Press

“There are not many people that know that he adopted two crack babies,” said local activist Russell Fish of Commissioner John Wiley Price. “One of my clearest memories of him is [when] we were doing a show with Thomas Muhammad on education and I had gotten up and given my little rant. Muhammad had given his rant. John was in the process of giving his rant. He was punching the air with his right hand. What the people at home, sitting by their radios, couldn’t see was in his left arm he had 2-year-old baby Nicolas. He was sound asleep. That’s a side of John that most people never see.”

The quote is an excerpt of an interview on behalf of Price, Dallas’ first Black commissioner who has served on the Dallas County Commissioners Court for more than 27 years, after the FBI raided his house on June 27, 2011. It was unclear what the FBI was searching for or what prompted the investigation that led to the FBI expanding its investigation to include his consultant Kathy Nealy and his assistant Daphne Fain.

Since then, the case seemed to remain in limbo until Friday, when he was officially charged with accepting nearly $1 million in bribes in exchange for providing insider information and voting in favor of projects proposed by various companies.

Price, Nealy, Fain and another political consultant were in custody after being charged in a 13-count indictment.

Price and the other three defendants each pleaded not guilty during their initial court appearances Friday afternoon. All four were released on personal recognizance bonds. Billy Ravkind, Price’s attorney, did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña said at a Friday morning news conference that during a decade-long scheme, two political consultants, Kathy Nealy and Christian Campbell, provided Price with $950,000 in money, cars and land.

Authorities allege that in exchange for the bribes, Price voted in favor of lucrative contracts before the Commissioners Court that were proposed by the consultants’ clients.

“Price corruptly solicited and demanded a series of benefits ... to award contracts for Dallas County business,” Saldaña said.

Price is charged in a 13-count indictment, including conspiracy to commit bribery and depravation of honest services by mail fraud. He is accused of leaking confidential information on contract bids to the clients of Nealy and Campbell in order to help these businesses land the contracts.

Saldaña said that in return, Price was provided “with a stream of benefits” that included more than $447,000 in cash and checks, the use of a new Chevy Avalanche every four years as well as a BMW convertible and nearly $200,000 from property secretly bought for Price.

“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.

Also indicted in the case was Dapheny Fain, Price’s chief of staff. She is accused of helping Price hide the bribes and other income he allegedly received.