Search warrant details blue-chip list of Price associates

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by BRETT SHIPP

WFAA

Posted on July 8, 2011 at 1:48 AM

Updated Friday, Jul 8 at 12:51 PM

NEWS 8 INVESTIGATES

DALLAS — The FBI investigation of County Commissioner John Wiley Price took a dramatic turn on Thursday.

New records just made public provide the first real look at exactly what federal agents were looking for when they raided Price's home and office last week.

Perhaps more intriguing than what they were looking for is the extensive list of people they are seeking information from.

According to the search warrant served to Price, the feds were looking for a trove of evidence dating back a decade — including all of his:

  • computer and electronic data
  • tax returns
  • check registers
  • bank deposit slips
  • wire transfers
  • real estate purchases and sales
  • automobile purchases and sales
  • Kwanzaafest records

The search warrants also seek records of any business transacted with the Millennium 2000 Art Gallery on South Lamar.

"What we can glean from this — at the very least — is that this is an extremely broad investigation into for the most part suspicions as to whether funds were used to pay John Wiley Price as a public official," said Jeff Ansley, a former federal prosecutor specializing in public corruption.

Specific individuals are also named as potential keys to the investigation including:

  • Kathy Nealy
  • Karen Manning
  • Willis Johnson
  • DeMetris Sampson
  • Jon Edmonds
  • Pettis Norman
  • Leon Backes
  • State Sen. Royce West

"I have no idea what they are after, but they are going to do what they are going to do," said Sen. West (D-Dallas).

Also included in the FBI documents is a blue-chip list of local and national businesses somehow connected to Price:

  • Walmart
  • HKS Architects
  • Hillwood Development
  • Southwestern Bell
  • AT&T
  • Dell Services/Perot Systems
  • Energy Future Holdings
  • Linebarger, Goggin, Blair and Sampson LLC
  • Weber Shandwick
  • American Airlines

When asked about the possible connection to Price, his attorney, Billy Ravkind joked, "I guess they are all rich enough to pay bribes."

Ravkind also suggests that the case is not about bribery or extortion, but about women and revenge.

“I don't think they are going to care about sex, but that's what they are going to find out at the end of the day," Ravkind said.

But based on the warrant and the who's who of personalities, the case could be a painful one for more than just Price.

"What this does tell us is that these individuals and these entities that there is some connection to John Wiley Price in the items the feds are looking for here," Ansley said. "It may be an entirely innocent and innocuous connection and it may be something far worse."

Ansley also says — based on his experience with the Dallas City Hall corruption investigation — he would be surprised if wiretaps and other secret recordings don't play a key role in the prosecution's case.

E-mail bshipp@wfaa.com

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