Court documents link Price to computer firm

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by BYRON HARRIS

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WFAA

Posted on June 2, 2012 at 12:20 PM

DALLAS — The FBI's investigation of Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price is as much about money as it is about political influence.

Did he use that influence to help get money from —  and contracts for — Dallas businesses?

New information links Price, a failed computer system, and the company that made those computers.

Federal affadavits outline the commissioner's support for computer company Atos led to a $53 million contract for a county computer system seven years ago; the same company blamed for paralyzing the Dallas County justice system.

In the winter of 2005, there was chaos at the Dallas County Jail. Courts didn't know who was behind bars. Inmates were held longer than they were supposed to be. Bail bond companies couldn't get accurate data.

The problem: Computers. Many blamed mainframe computer company Atos and its predecessor, Schlumberger. Both are prominently mentioned in affidavits filed against John Wiley Price.

Documents say that Price's associate Kathy Nealy and her lobbying firm KLNA got $251,000 from Schlumberger, beginning in 2002. Part of that money went on to Price, according to documents.

Price put a motion before the county commissioners to hire Schlumberger as one of its information technology companies.

According to federal affidavits:

  • Atos buys Schlumberger in 2004
  • Atos gives Kathy Nealy/KLNA a total of $234,000 over serveral years
  • Price gets money from Nealy
  • Price introduces a motion to retain Atos for county work, a $53 million contract
  • The Atos computer system does not work

At the time, John Wiley Price blamed another computer company. But many others — inlcuding fellow commissioner Mike Cantrell — blamed Atos.

"Nothing's been done in the back room, or behind closed doors," he said.

On Friday, Cantrell told News 8 that Atos was 100 percent of the problem.

No one has been charged in this case and attorneys for Commissioner Price were unavailable for comment.

E-mail bharris@wfaa.com

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