Complete coverage of the FBI Investigation of John Wiley Price

Grand Jury Witnesses Expected Wednesday in Price Probe

By Ken Kalthoff
|  Tuesday, Jul 19, 2011  |  Updated 11:35 PM CDT
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Witnesses are due to testify at a grand jury Wednesday for Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price.

Ken Kalthoff, NBCDFW.com

Witnesses are due to testify at a grand jury Wednesday for Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price.

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Several witnesses are expected Wednesday at a hearing for a federal grand jury investigating Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price.

The panel was believed to be in session Tuesday, and cameras and reporters circled the courthouse in search of familiar faces.

Two former high-ranking employees of District Attorney Craig Watkins arrived in the morning but quickly explained they were at the courthouse as private defense attorneys in a tax trial, not grand jury witnesses.

But false rumors to the contrary -- fueled by reports that the FBI agents investigating Price visited Watkins' office last week -- spread quickly, even among veteran attorneys.

A spokesperson for Watkins declined to comment on the FBI visit.

"It could relate to Commissioners Court, but it's just as likely that it relates to some other investigation," former U.S. Attorney Paul Coggins said.

Coggins, who supervised other public corruption investigations in the past, said the search warrants from the Price investigation indicate that it is very broad and will take months or even years to complete.

He said hundreds of witnesses and a million documents may be reviewed before federal agents are finished.

He also said that the grand jury has likely been considering evidence since well before the June 27 raids on the homes and offices of Price and several associates, because evidence is required to persuade a federal magistrate to grant the search warrants.

"It is a massive investigation," Coggins said. "They've got experienced prosecutors, [and] they've got experienced agents on this, so there's going to be a lot of information to digest in connection with this."

Two businessmen ordered to testify Wednesday are tied to the Dallas Logistics hub project in Price's district.

Former Dallas County Judge Jim Foster and other people connected with the inland port project have claimed that Price tried to force the consultants on the developer unnecessarily in the name of minority participation.

Efforts to reach the businessmen -- former Dallas Cowboy Pettis Norman and businessman Jon Edmonds -- have been unsuccessful.

Price has denied doing anything illegal.

There is a website seeking public contributions for his defense in case the grand jury investigation results in criminal charges.


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