Price probe extends to former Cowboys player

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by BRETT SHIPP

WFAA

Posted on July 1, 2011 at 10:03 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jul 19 at 8:54 AM

DALLAS - Federal officials have issued grand jury subpoenas for at least two local businessmen in connection with the FBI investigation of Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price.

One of those businessmen is former Dallas Cowboys player Pettis Norman, and both were linked to the Inland Port project in southern Dallas County.

Monday's raid on the home and offices of Commissioner Price and two of his associates led to rampant speculation as to what exactly federal agents are after.

Now comes word that on the same day, subpoenas were issued to Norman and developer Jon Edmonds.

However, few disagree as to why they are involved.

Both were identified in a series of articles in the Dallas Observer in 2008 that outlined an alleged initiative by Price's associates, Norman and Edmonds, to force Inland Port developer Richard Allen to hire them as consultants.

The Inland Port is a massive rail, trucking and warehouse district located in south Dallas County off Interstate 45. The port was going to bring tens of  thousands of jobs and a huge new tax base to southern Dallas.

But, according to then County Judge Jim Foster, Allen refused to bow to the pressure and hire the consultants. Foster said Allen complained to him about feeling "squeezed."

"He told me he couldn’t afford to give them 15 percent of this project and that he doesn’t do business that way,” Foster recalled. “I told him I don't think we should have to do business that way, that it was completely unethical and unacceptable."

It was at that point that Foster and others say Price used his influence to stall the project. Allen ultimately filed for bankruptcy.

So, how might the feds fit in?

"I see all of these different deals that [Price] is trying to do over the years, shaking people down and all that stuff," Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson was quoted as saying to the Dallas Observer in 2008.

As to his ability to potentially impede the Inland Port project, Johnson told the Observer "John was making sure he put a cork in there to stop everything until they did what they wanted them to do."

Norman, Edmonds and Price have all denied being part of a collaborative effort to force Allen to do business.

Allen disputes that telling.

"I have done business for 40 years in 50 cities and I've never seen anything like it," he told News 8 in 2009.

It appears now that the FBI is eager to find out which side is right.

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