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Key witness in John Wiley Price trial given probation, ordered to pay restitution

Had she not testified against John Wiley Price, she may have faced up to three years in federal prison.
Karen Manning leaves the Dallas federal courthouse Tuesday after her sentencing.

A former art dealer charged in connection with the same corruption investigation that Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price beat in federal court earlier this year was sentenced Tuesday to a year’s probation and ordered to pay $97,000 in restitution.

Karen Manning pleaded guilty in 2015 to tax evasion for failing to pay taxes on proceeds from her now-defunct African art business. She was not charged with bribery alongside Price.

She did, however, testify against Price at his trial in March. She told jurors that Price gave her hundreds of pieces of his African art collection – dubbed the “John Wiley Priceless Collection” – to sell in her art gallery at the South Side on Lamar. She told jurors she took a flat commission of $45 from each sale of his artwork.

At Price’s trial, prosecutors argued that Price laundered about $280,000 in alleged bribes and campaign money through Manning’s gallery. Prosecutors said Price also didn’t pay taxes on any of that money, which is supposed to count as income for tax purposes.

Jurors, however, were not convinced by the government’s evidence. They acquitted Price of bribery, and failed to reach a unanimous verdict on the tax counts against him. The U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas presiding over the prosecution, John Parker, decided to dismiss those tax counts rather than retry them in front of a different jury.

But Manning’s guilty plea was separate from Price’s trial. Had she not testified against him, she may have faced up to three years in federal prison. Even though she was a reluctant witness in March against him and hostile to the government, she got credit Tuesday for her cooperation, resulting in one-year probation.

Chief U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn also ordered Manning repay $97,309.27 in back taxes. Manning declined to comment on her sentence after court Tuesday.

The other co-defendant in the Price investigation to plead guilty, Christian Campbell, will be sentenced Nov. 2.

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