With the government listening in, Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway told developer Ruel Hamilton over the phone that he needed "$6,200 today" to pay his medical bills, according to federal court papers filed on Thursday.
At the time, the FBI was recording the conversation — and everybody knew about it except for Hamilton.
A transcript of the call was part of the government's response to earlier claims made by defense lawyers for Hamilton, who is now facing federal charges alleging he bribed both Caraway, who is now in prison, and former city Councilwoman Carolyn Davis, who died this year in a traffic accident.
"I think you've been doing an extraordinary job in your district," the government quoted Hamilton as telling Caraway, before asking for political help that could benefit the developer personally.
"I want you here and I think that you and I can get a lot of stuff done," Hamilton told Caraway, who, at the time, was already a target of a separate federal corruption investigation involving the Dallas County Schools.
During the phone call, Caraway was wearing a "wire" and secretly recording the conversation for the government.
In exchange, he hoped for leniency after admitting he took bribes in the DCS scandal. Caraway is now serving a prison sentence of more than four years, for his role in that corruption.
"So, what can I do for you today," Hamilton told Caraway, according to the transcript of the call.
Prosecutors said Caraway replied: "You can answer that bill that I just threw out there …for about 62 today, and that will help me …do what I need to do."
"So, $6200? $6500," the government said Hamilton asked Caraway, before ultimately writing a check for $7,000.
Caraway told Hamilton he needed money to pay medical bills for himself and his elderly mother, and that the check should not be made out to his political campaign.
"If somebody looks at this and asks? What are they going to say …," Hamilton asked Caraway, according to the transcript.
It then quoted the developer as concluding, "there's only one thing we need Dwaine …A pen."
In addition to the alleged $7,000 bribe to Caraway, an indictment accuses Hamilton of giving $40,000 in bribes to Davis, who ultimately pleaded guilty to talking those bribes.
She died in July, before her sentencing, in a traffic accident that also claimed the life of her adult daughter.
A representative for Hamilton could not immediately be reached for comment.
In earlier court filings, defense lawyers asked to have the charges dropped, saying the government knew Caraway and Davis were crooked, but allowed them to stay in office, and then manipulated them into entrapping Hamilton.