Commissioner Price avoids questions about alleged kickbacks

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by BRETT SHIPP

WFAA

Posted on June 5, 2012 at 6:47 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 6 at 2:07 AM

DALLAS — On Tuesday, Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price made his first appearance in Commissioners Court since allegations surfaced last week regarding alleged criminal activity.

The 62-page affidavit paints a damaging portrait of alleged corrupt behavior by Commissioner Price. He is accused of bribery, money laundering, bankruptcy fraud, and alleged kickbacks from vendors doing business with Dallas County.

Former Federal Prosecutor Matthew Yarbrough helped prosecute former Dallas County Commissioner Al Lipscomb 10 years ago. He says the feds appear to be amassing an impressive case against Price and his chief political consultant, Kathy Nealy.

"That would presume to mean that the government is going to bring charges in the future," Yarbrough said. "Based upon what it lays out here are clearly money laundering transactions, bribery, bankruptcy fraud, and some other charges, too."

Among the other charges: Allegedly taking kickbacks from various vendors doing business with Dallas County Commissioners over the years.

  • In 2002, the feds allege Price took a $2,500 kickback on a county contract with Schlumberger.
     
  • In 2004, Price's campaign consultant Kathy Nealy allegedly took a $10,000 payment from Atos, the company that replaced Schlumberger.
     
  • In 2002, Price allegedly took a $3,000 kickback from Walmart.
     
  • In 2002, Price allegedly took a nearly $7,000 bribe from Urban Related Development, the managers of Victory Park at the time.
     
  • In 2005, Nealy is accused of taking a $5,000 kickback from Bearing Point, consulting firm.

None of the companies listed is accused of a crime, and none has responded to a request for comment on the allegations.

At Dallas County Commissioners Court on Tuesday, Price dashed out of court without answering questions for the second consecutive week.

Former Dallas County Judge Jim Foster said he frequently tried to stop certain contracts that were curiously being pushed through by Price.

"If you ever got in the way of the money, he would go ballistic," Foster said.

Foster added he has read the 62-page affidavit and he says he is not surprised by the variety of offenses being alleged.

"It confirms what I thought was going on all the time — that there was kickback and kickback and kickback," Foster said.

While the allegations are explicit, no one connected with the case has been officially charged with a crime.

When we asked his fellow Commissioners about Price being accused of taking kickbacks, they had no comment.

E-mail bshipp@wfaa.com

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