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During his 30 years in office, Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price has been a catalyst for controversy.

His supporters praise his vibrant voice on the Commissioners Court. His brightly-painted 'Our Man Downtown' SUVs symbolize an in-your-face attitude. In his district, he has some huge fans.

Outside his district, three decades of his confrontational demeanor have resulted in plenty of opponents.

Price has picketed the most powerful media outlets;p painted over commercial billboards he alleged were racist; and even threatened News 8 reporter Brett Shipp with the phrase 'I'm gonna split your throat.'

Price's high-dollar collection of vehicles -- from a Jaguar to Dodge Vipers to a Bentley -- did not help bridge the gap between those who admire him and those who don't.

Since an FBI search in 2011 uncovered a collection of expensive watches in his home safe, in addition to $229,000 in cash, the county has been waiting for the other shoe to drop.

With today's indictment, it has.

But Price is not the first Dallas public servant to be charged with criminal malfeasance.

Former City Council member Paul Fielding drove a Rolls Royce. He was convicted of bribery in 1997 and served prison time.

City Council member and civil rights activist Al Lipscomb, now deceased, was also charged with bribery. He was found guilty, but his sentence was vacated.

And City Council member Don Hill was broke, but drove a BMW. He was convicted in 2009 of taking bribes from developers. He gets out of federal prison in 2025.

Former U.S. Attorney Paul Coggins, whose office prosecuted Lipscomb, says the Price indictment could be the biggest public corruption case North Texas has seen.

'It's arguable that John Wiley Price is the most powerful political that has been targeted and indicted,' Coggins told News 8.'Al Lipscomb was perhaps the most beloved. It was hard not to like Al Lipscomb. Don Hill, the City Hall investigation, was certainly more wide-ranging. it involved more people and more time. But I think John Wiley Price is the most powerful persona to be indicted in Dallas County history.'

The charges against Price have been brewing for three years. He has shrugged them off.

'If you're in public office, you kind of expect something,' the commissioner told News 8 when this investigation began. 'So like I say, it's not the first time.'

Next stop, federal court.

E-mail bharris@wfaa.com

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