Feds take interest in unnamed Price associate

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by BRETT SHIPP

WFAA

Posted on June 28, 2011 at 10:06 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jun 28 at 10:42 PM

NEWS 8 INVESTIGATES

DALLAS — A new potential person of interest has surfaced in the criminal investigation of Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price.

Price, his assistant, and a campaign consultant are already the established focal points of the investigation.

But News 8 has learned that federal agents on Monday also came calling on one of Price's close associates, whose business is right across the street from the Dallas Police Department.

It happened right around the time federal agents were executing search warrants and seizing documents at the offices and homes of John Wiley Price and two of his associates.

Two federal agents also reportedly went looking for a third person closely connected to Price at South Side On Lamar, a retail and condo complex where agents conducted an undercover bribery sting five years ago.

"Two of the FBI guys came here yesterday," said Evelyn Boyd, who works at a business inside the complex. Boyd told News 8 the agents appeared anxious to visit with the person who operates the art store near her place of business.

"They came and they asked me about the activity," Boyd said. "They asked if I saw a lot of activity going in and out of that store and if I had seen her that day."

The shop owner is not named as an FBI target, nor will we identify her for this story, but News 8 has learned she is a close friend of Commissioner Price as well as the recipient of tens of thousands of dollars in campaign expenditures.

According to his campaign records, since September of 2007, Price has spent nearly $46,000 of his political contributions at the art store in question.

The reported value of some of the items purchased includes:

  • $21,000 for "Kwanzaa gifts" for now-indicted former County Constable Jaime Cortes
  • $2,500 for gifts for five unnamed "constituents"
  • $2,400 for catering
  • $1,300 for a "nurse appreciation event"

The funds were paid to an art store owner who is now apparently wanted for questioning by the FBI.

News 8 also found an expenditure at the same art store for "campaign vehicle repairs." One was for $300; another vehicle repair was listed at $700 and an $1,800 expenditure was on the books for "campaign vehicle wrap," presumably one of the vehicles now being looked at by federal agents.

News 8 tried to contact the owner of the shop on Tuesday. Neighbors said they have not seen her since early Monday, and there is no word on whether federal agents are still looking for her.

Attempts to reach Commissioner Price for comment about these expenditures were unsuccessful.

We are also interested in asking him about those vehicle repairs, totaling more than $28,000 in four years for the maintenance and upkeep on his "campaign vehicles."

Neither Price nor his associates have been accused of committing any crimes.

E-mail bshipp@wfaa.com

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