Questions remain about Commissioner Price's fleet

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by DAVID SCHECHTER

Bio | Email | Follow: @davidschechter

WFAA

Posted on June 28, 2011 at 6:24 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jun 28 at 7:13 PM

DALLAS — Like Commissioner John Wiley Price, we are waiting for an affidavit to learn what federal agents were looking for when they conducted an all-day search of his home, offices and vehicles on Monday.

The FBI paid a great deal of attention to luxury cars registered to Price as they collected evidence.

On Monday, News 8 reported that Price owns at least three vehicles that were previously owned by inmates.

When asked about that early Tuesday morning, Price responded that he's been in office for 26 years and deserved to have at least a car or two.

But — hours later — we again asked him about our investigation showing, in some cases, how county inmates had owned luxury cars just before they came into Price's possession.

"I've never heard of that," the Commissioner said, pleading ignorance about the details of the News 8 report on his luxury fleet.

News 8 has learned that before Price owned the vehicles, at least three of them were in the hands of men held in, or recently released from, the Dallas County Jail.

In 2002, Damon Crow was charged with aggravated assault and forgery. Vehicle records show Price took possesion of Crow's 1993 BMW 850i that same year.

In 2009, when Timothy Calverly was charged with drug possession, Price took possession of his 1999 GMC truck.

And in 2007, Gary Stephens faced charges of embezzling $1.4 million from Baylor University Medical Center. Four days after he bonded out, Price took possession of his $130,000 Bentley.

On Tuesday, Price said he didn't buy the Bentley from a convicted embezzler. "I got it from a dealer," he said. "They used to be on Oak Lawn."

The Bentley and the other vehicles had unresolved ownership issues. Because of that, Price petitioned the county tax assessor to give him clear title.

"It is not a secret meeting. It's not necessarily open or closed. It is just a hearing held with that individual over their paperwork," explained Tax Assessor John Ames. "We do it for any citizen of Dallas county."

The FBI is interested in Price's vehicles.

On Monday, agents checked the vehicle identification numbers on cars at his home and office, and also at the office of his political adviser Kathy Nealy and at the home of his executive assistant Dapheny Fain.

Price explained why he is driving cars that are registered to Fain.

"Because I can drive them. If I ask to drive them, I can drive them. What difference does it make?" he asked. "Ms. Fain today is driving a vehicle registered to me."

Court records show that Bentley was part of Gary Stephens' restitution settlement with Baylor.

E-mail dschechter@wfaa.com

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