Scott Gordon, NBCDFW.com
Grand jury subpoenas could mean that inland port project is part of the FBI's investigation of Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price.
Two men with links to the Dallas Logistics Hub development have been called to testify before a federal grand jury apparently investigating Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price.
Former Dallas Cowboy Pettis Norman and businessman Jon Edmonds have received subpoenas to appear July 20, the Dallas Morning News reported Friday.
The men were connected to what U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson described as a "shakedown" in a 2008 media report.
Former Dallas County Judge Jim Foster said the Logistics Hub developer complained that Price demanded the men be included in an unnecessary partnership for the project about three years ago.
"Where else can you go and find a group that just appears and says, 'We want 15 percent of the action and just sign your check over to us.' You know, that's ludicrous," he said.
Foster said the developer refused.
"Not only did he not see a need, he just flat said, 'I do not intend to include them, period,'" he said.
In return, Foster said Price attempted to impose years of delay with extra planning for the project.
Foster said he and Price nearly came to blows on June 30, 2009, when he and two more of the five Dallas County commissioners in office at the time voted against Price on the additional planning requirements.
Price said that day that planning was necessary to provide for proper growth in that undeveloped area.
"Infrastructure, sewer and roadways, transportation -- that's always been the intent, that's the only thing that's lacking," Price said.
On Friday, Price attorney Billy Ravkind said he is now investigating the "shakedown" accusation against his client, but that he's not found truth to any of it.
"It is all made up; it really is," he said said.
Also Friday, the Dallas NAACP Chapter held a press conference to question the government's motives in investigating Price.
"This is not about Commissioner Price. This is a bigger problem," activist Roy Williams said.
Participants at the press conference accused the government of unfairly targeting black political leaders in Dallas.
"The pursuit of justice has to have the appearance of being just," the Rev. Holsey Hickman said.
Dallas NAACP President Juanita Wallace urged residents to withhold conclusions about Price until all of the facts are known and the investigations are complete.
"We need to make sure that the entire process from top to bottom is followed with transparency," she said.