NEWS 8 INVESTIGATES
DALLAS -- As the government prepares its bribery case against Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price, questions remain about those who may have participated in the scheme, yet were not indicted.
News 8 has identified six businesses whom the feds are suggesting paid off Commissioner Price, but thus far are not charged with any crime.
Price and his political consultant Kathy Nealy are charged in an alleged bribery scheme involving multiple companies seeking to do business with Dallas County. The 107-page indictment lays out an elaborate scheme alleging Price, through Nealy, is paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by prospective vendors, identified in the indictment as businesses 'S,' 'A,' 'B,' 'U,' 'V,' and 'Q' to get the inside edge on multi-million dollar contracts.
The initials are a thin disguise for who the businesses really are. And the indictment explicitly suggests over the course of a decade, the technology firms had hired consultant Kathy Nealy to gain access to and influence with Commissioner Price, who voted on the contracts.
Here's how the alleged scheme worked: Beginning in 2001, business 'S,' Schlumberger, paid Nealy $258,000. Nealy later pays Price $218,000. Price later votes to award Schlumberger a $40-million contract.
In 2004, Business 'A,' Atos-Origin, takes over that same contract and pays Nealy $229,000. She then pays $153,000 to Price. Atos then receives its portion of that $40-million contract.
Business 'B' is BearingPoint. Beginning in 2004, Bearing Point pays Nealy $197,000, $176,000 of which goes to Price, and who later votes to award BearingPoint a $3.2-million contract.
Business 'U' and its sub-contractor 'V' are Unisys and Vignon. Beginning in 2006, Vignon pays Nealy $159,000, $122,000 of which is paid to Price. Price later votes to award Unisys a $6-million contract.
Business 'Q,' QNET, pays Nealy $10,000 in 2010, $9,500 of which flows to Price. He then votes to award QNET a $3.6-million contract.
In total, $853,000 in payments were made to Nealy, $678,000 of which allegedly flowed to Price, and $52.8 million in contracts were awarded to Nealy's clients.
The indictment goes on to suggest each business received an inside advantage in return for its payments to Nealy. Specifically, some of the businesses asked for 'access to and influence with Price,' who would then obtain and 'share inside information.'
In one case, according to the indictment, Price provided sensitive and classified bid information to a prospective Vendor including 'scoring summaries of the four finalists and each of their bids.' Much of the information would allegedly flow to Nealy's clients during a 'no-contact' period with zero communication, designed to prevent a bidder from gaining a competitive advantage.
According to Nealy's 2004 personal calendar, made public in the 2009 Don Hill public corruption trial, prospective vendor BearingPoint was scheduled to meet with Price and Nealy during that 'no contact period.'
Another calendar entry seems to suggest vendor QNET held a political fundraiser for Price. Texas law prohibits corporations from making political contributions to officeholders.
Another entry appears to indicate a scheduled payment from Nealy to Price.
This information represents just a fraction of the bribery evidence laid out in the government's case yet, again, only Price and Nealy are charged with a crime.
Former federal prosecutor Jeff Ansley would know, he helped prosecute Don Hill in 2009. He has read the case against Price and Nealy. He calls it thorough and damaging.
As to why the feds are not bringing cases against the businesses mentioned in the indictment, Ansley said the government may simply not have enough evidence.
'So it gets them close, but whether they can actually prove that to a jury to show that they knowingly and corruptly made those payments, knowing and intending that they would be used to influence Commissioner Price's decisions on matters that affected them, that's a different story,' Ansley said.
Another opinion comes from former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas Matt Orwig. He feels prosecutors are focused on bagging the big trophy -- the government official who has allegedly violated the public's trust.
'I honestly believe the government followed the evidence where it led them, and they saw the best targets as the public officials,' Orwig said.
Each of the businesses we named has denied playing any role in any illegal or unethical acts. Again, none have been charged and each say they are cooperating fully with federal officials in the investigation.
The big question is, will any or all of them take the stand and testify against Price and Nealy?