(AP) – Commissioner John Wiley Price was found not guilty of bribery and mail fraud charges Friday, while the jury failed to reach a verdict on other counts.
“We’re of course very gratified at the finding by the jury of no bribery whatsoever, but we are not surprised,” said Shirley
Baccus-Lobel, an attorney for Price.
The FBI raided Price’s house in June 2011, yet after just over five years, was not able to prove their case. Testimony in the trial began Feb. 27, and jurors began deliberating the case April 19.
Jurors told U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn that further deliberations would not yield a verdict on tax-fraud charges against Price, so she dismissed the jury and ended the trial.
A conviction on all 11 charges against the longtime political leader and civic activist would have meant decades in prison.
Dapheny Fain, a top aide to Price and co-defendant, was acquitted of charges that included lying to the FBI. Three others earlier were convicted of charges related to the Price corruption probe.
Lynn has given federal prosecutors a month to determine whether they will retry Price on the four tax-fraud charges that had hung up the jury.
During the trial, Price was portrayed as a hardworking public servant who helped his close friends in need, but also as a greedy and corrupt man who enriched himself by selling his vote.
He was first elected to his position in 1985.
Federal officials accused him of taking almost $1 million in bribes over a decade from a lobbyist to help her clients. They said he failed to report those bribes and other income in his tax fillings.
Price’s lawyers argued that money he received from Fain, his chief of staff, was repayment of loans he made to her to launch a business and not evidence of a scheme to avoid paying taxes.
Price took his place in the Commissioner’s Court on Tuesday as meetings reconvened.
“Dallas County government is now able to proceed full throttle, and the Commissioners Court will be fully functioning with all commissioners. We know Commissioner Price will hit the ground running. For his constituents in District 3, he is still ‘Our Man Downtown.’ We wish the best to Commissioner John Wiley Price,” Dallas County Democratic Party Chair Carol Donovan expressed in a statement to the media.