Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price and a top aide declined offers to meet with federal prosecutors Wednesday.
Price’s lawyer, Billy Ravkind, said Friday that he would accept the offer to hear evidence gathered since FBI raids on Price’s office and home three years ago made the corruption investigation public.
But yesterday, Price and Ravkind said they would decline the meeting.
Tom Mills, the attorney for Price’s top aide, Daphne Fain, said he, too, declined after prosecutors insisted that she attend and that he respond to the evidence presented at the meeting.
“They said they wanted to debate the evidence, which I guess means they would come up with something and say what’s your explanation. And obviously I wouldn’t be prepared,” Mills said.
Former U.S. Attorney Paul Coggins has been on both sides of meetings like the ones proposed by prosecutors, most recently as a defense attorney listening to government cases.
“Even if we think we know what their case is about, you always learn something in a session like that. The down side is if you have to give up something for that, in other words, if they’re expecting a give and take. As a defense, you want all give and no take at this point. You don’t want to trip off what your defense might be.”
At the top Dallas federal prosecutor, Coggins said he once participated in a session like that with Price’s attorney Billy Ravkind when Ravkind represented then Dallas City Councilman Al Lipscomb in another bribery investigation.
“The prosecution, if they feel they have a strong case, often likes to put those cards on the table and force a guilty plea. If there’s going to be a conspiracy charge, if they can get one of the conspirators to flip and go to the other side, it’s a much stronger case,” Coggins said.
A taxi company owner did testify against Lipscomb in his 2000 bribery trial, but Lipscomb’s conviction was overturned on appeal. Lipscomb died in 2011.
In the past three years, the pile of evidence has likely grown very large in the John Wiley Price investigation.
Mills said it appears the government has added income tax evasion to the other alleged crimes of bribery, money laundering and bankruptcy fraud that were included in court documents concerning Price.
“They have to go back and investigate every source of income that he ever had,” Mills said.
Mills said Price is the key target but his client, Daphne Fain, will likely be charged in the case, too.
“I think this is probably their final stage before they go to the grand jury the final time and seek an indictment,” Mills said.
Coggins said much remains unknown about the government’s case.
“Is it going to be one defendant, two defendants, three defendants, more? Nobody knows that yet,” Coggins said.
Attorneys for Price and Fain have said their clients are not guilty of any crimes.
A spokesperson for the current U.S. Attorney declined comment Wednesday.