DALLAS -- John Wiley Price’s attorney said Wednesday that he canceled a meeting Wednesday with federal prosecutors to go over the pending criminal case against the controversial Dallas County commissioner because of “too much publicity.”
“There was no use in going,” said attorney Billy Ravkind, who declined an on-camera interview but spoke to News 8 at his office on Greenville Avenue in Dallas.
“We weren’t going to get a fair hearing,” Ravkind said. “What’s the reason to go other than to shoot your mouth off?”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office and Dallas FBI both declined to comment on the meeting, or Price in general. Federal grand jury investigations are secret by law.
Publicity about Price’s meeting with prosecutors came from Ravkind himself, who acknowledged the meeting in media interviews last week. That led to several news stories speculating on the nature of the meeting, and any deal the feds may extend to Price to plead guilty.
Price, known for his longtime service to the county but also his outspokenness and bursts of outrage, has said for years that he has done nothing wrong. This week, he declined to say whether he would attend Wednesday’s meeting with the prosecutors. He referred all questions to Ravkind.
Price is not charged with any crime, but that could change, his lawyer acknowledged Wednesday.
“We’ll wait and see if they indict him,” Ravkind said. “I’ve been there before.”
On Wednesday, Ravkind declined to talk about anything the government has told him about their case, other than it deals heavily with allegations of tax violations.
“Where’s the corruption?” Ravkind said. “I don’t think they have a case.”
Meetings like the one that prosecutors invited Price and his lawyer to attend are not uncommon, but generally aren’t publicized by either side, said former U.S. Attorney Paul Coggins, who oversaw high profile investigations while serving as the Northern District of Texas’ chief federal prosecutor.
"My experience is when the government wants to give you a reverse proffer, it's usually an indication of two things,” said Coggins, now in private practice in Dallas. “One, they think they have a strong case and two, they are near the end of putting that case together.”
In 2011, FBI agents took their investigation of Price public by searching his home and office, and that of his top assistant Dapheny Fain and Price’s political consultant Kathy Nealy.
None have been charged with any crimes, but they could face indictment with Price later this summer.
Nealy's lawyer, Cheryl Wattley, has declined to talk to News 8.
Fain’s lawyer, Tom Mills, has said prosecutors invited his client to meet as well. He did not say whether the meeting will take place.
The FBI is investigating the origin of nearly a quarter million dollars in cash agents found in a safe in Price’s Oak Cliff home in 2011. They are also examining whether he took any payments from companies doing business with the county, as well as the movement of money through Price’s campaign fund and KwanzaaFest, the annual African American health fair he founded.
They are also investigating whether Price hid assets in a bankruptcy in which he had more than $300,000 in debts discharged.