How the Federal Case Against John Wiley Price Fell Apart

Federal prosecutors and the FBI took on the man who is arguably the most powerful politician in North Texas with charges of conspiracy to commit bribery, mail fraud and tax evasion.They have a history of prosecuting trials with clinical precision, laying out tight cases that use hundreds of pages of documentation and shocking wiretaps and recordings to expose the guilt of corrupt Dallas public figures.Those successes somewhat tempered allegations that they unfairly targeted black leaders while not always indicting many white business owners accused of paying bribes.Then they turned their eyes on Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price, alleging that he conspired over a decade to trade votes for bribes worth nearly $1 million in cash, cars and land. But their presentation of a lackluster case to jurors lacked a smoking gun. Jury and judge were underwhelmed.On Friday, jurors found Price not guilty of bribery and other charges, but deadlocked on accusations that he defrauded the IRS. The judge declared a mistrial on the tax charges.The case began unraveling before the first witness ever took the stand.The veteran FBI investigator who’d been key to so many of the cases had a stroke and retired. Price’s longtime friend and alleged co-conspirator, political consultant Kathy Nealy, was granted a separate trial and then couldn’t be persuaded to testify against Price. The public watched aghast as prosecutors four times discovered evidence they hadn’t turned over to the defense when they should have.Then U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn said she would throw out mail fraud charges against Price if the jury returned guilty verdicts on those charges because the government hadn’t proved its case.“When you investigate a case as long as they did, and as hard as they did, and then you have as much time to prepare for the trial as they did, it leaves you baffled,” said Victor Vital, who represented a co-defendant in the FBI’s bribery case against former Dallas City Council member Don Hill, who remains in prison.  Continue reading...

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