DALLAS -- Seven weeks after jury selection began, the government on Tuesday rested its case in one of the most high-profile public corruption prosecutions in Dallas history.
The question now is will Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price take the stand in his own defense? If he does, it will likely be this week as the defense begins calling its own witnesses to rebut the government's mountain of evidence that Price sold his vote.
Price is accused of taking more than $1 million in cash, vehicles, and real estate in exchange for voting in favor of certain companies seeking county contracts over about a decade. His top assistant, Dapheny Fain, is accused of helping him hide money and lying to FBI agents during the investigation. Both Price and Fain are accused of lying on their taxes.
The primary conduit of the alleged bribes, according to prosecutors, was Kathy Nealy, Price's chief campaign consultant. Nealy is also accused in the case, but will be tried separately.
Throughout March and April, prosecutors put on a parade of witnesses testifying about Price's alleged willingness to take hundreds of thousands of dollars in exchange for favorable votes on contracts.
But prosecutors stumbled in recent weeks. Several times, Walt Junker, the lead prosecutor, told Chief U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn, who is presiding over the case, that their team discovered evidence in the case that wasn't turned over to the defense.
The government apologized for the oversight, and argued that the found documents were mostly benign. Still, the government's violation of evidentiary rules infuriated Judge Lynn, who dressed down the prosecution team repeatedly outside the presence of the jury, and even mentioned the issue to jurors in open court to explain why some witnesses had to be recalled and re-questioned by the defense.
In general, over the course of the trial, defense lawyers have argued that the government's case is too big and too sloppy. They say it's been headed up by FBI agents bent on getting convictions despite what the defense contends is scant proof.
They say agents and prosecutors overlooked evidence that allegedly shows that Price took money from Nealy and Fain as repayments of loans he had given them over the years.
The defense case is expected to last this week and possibly next week. A verdict is expected by the end of the month.
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