DALLAS - He hasn't even been charged with a crime, but already John Wiley Price's attorney says the commissioner will take the witness stand in his own defense.
It’s just one of several bold statements made Thursday by two attorneys representing prime targets in the FBI corruption investigation of Commissioner Price and two of his close colleagues.
How confident is defense attorney Billy Ravkind that his client Price is innocent of all charges?
"I'll say this, the only way we can lose is if I mess up," Ravkind said. "Not John, me. He'll be there, he'll testify [and] the jury will believe him or not believe him."
Price, taking the stand? While the feds have raided his home and office and accused him of bribery, taking kickbacks, money laundering and bankruptcy fraud, Price has yet to be charged with any crime. Still, when they raided his home last June, the FBI found $230,000 in mostly $100 bills locked away in his safe.
The allegations of where all that money originated are meticulously laid out in a 62-page affidavit unsealed by prosecutors one week ago. Contained within are specific times, dates, bank transactions, land deals and votes on lucrative contracts by Price.
“The allegations that we've had a chance to investigate are basically not even true,” Ravkind said. “I won't use the word 'lie,' but they are not true”.
“There is more than a legitimate explanation for that," Ravkind said of the $230,000 found in the safe.
Half of it, he claims, belongs to Price's assistant Dapheny Fain, who is also a target in the investigation.
Fain's attorney, Tom Mills , said he believes the prosecutor's court papers fudge the facts, and are essentially a marketing tool for the feds.
"It's got intrigue," he said. "It's got adventure; it's got everything. But, I happen to know some of it, I don't think is correct."
If in fact Price goes to trial and takes the stand in his own defense, it's worth noting that former Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Don Hill did the same thing in his bribery trial three years ago. It's widely believed that Hill's poor performance on the stand was a key element in his being found guilty and sentenced to 18 years in prison.