Activist sentenced to 14 years in Dallas corruption trial

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by CYNTHIA VEGA / WFAA

wfaa.com

Posted on March 1, 2010 at 1:17 PM

Updated Monday, Mar 1 at 5:06 PM

DALLAS - A southern Dallas activist was sentenced to 14 years behind bars and a car dealer 36 months in prison for their roles in the Dallas City Hall corruption trial.

At about 2 p.m. Monday, US District Judge Barbara Lynn handed down Darren Reagan's 14-year sentence. Reagan was found guilty of extorting money from developer James R. "Bill" Fisher, who turned out to be an FBI informant. He was facing up to 40 years in prison.

"I ask for the city’s forgiveness for any harm I have caused,” Reagan said before his sentence was handed down. “I’ve made a mistake and made bad choices and decisions.”

Unlike the lawyers for Rickey Robertson and the others, Reagan’s attorney did not present character witnesses before sentencing. Reagan asked that his friends and family not appear in court.

He told the judge that he was a humbled, changed person from the man who stood before her a few years ago, when he was sentenced to a year in prison on an unrelated connviction for theft from the Dallas Housing Authority.

He served that time, but landed back in court last year in the City Hall case. Prosecutors showed that the organziation he ran, called the Black State Employees Association of Texas, didn’t represent any state employees. Rather, it was a front for his schemes to shake down developers by working with Hill to influence the awarding of housing contracts.

Earlier in the afternoon, Lynn sentenced Robertson to 36 months. She requested that Robertson serve time in a prison located in the Dallas-Fort Worth area so that friends and family members can easily visit.

Robertson faced up to 36 years in prison. He was convicted of helping former Mayor Pro Tem Don Hill, the so-called mastermind in a bribery and extortion scheme, get a BMW. The vehicle was paid for with money obtained through the criminal plot.

Hill was sentenced to 18 years in prison Friday. His appointee to the Dallas Plan Commission, D'Angelo Lee, was given 14 years and fined over $112,000. Hill's wife, Sheila Farrington Hill, sentenced to nine years.

Lynn said she gave Robertson a lighter sentence because he wasn't a substantial player in the scheme. He was also acquitted of having any knowledge that the money paid for the BMW came from any unlawful activity.

Before he was sentenced, Robertson took the stand and apologized for his actions and said he did not do his due diligence in his dealings with those involved in the bribery and extortion. Robertson will begin his sentence April 27.

The Dallas Morning News contributed to this report

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