A federal grand jury indicted two Dallas real estate investors on mail fraud charges surrounding the construction on Interstate 35E in Denton County.
The indictment alleges Kevin Bollman and Wade Blackburn bought up six parcels of property along I-35E between Denton and Lewisville in order to then sell it to the Texas Department of Transportation for use in the 35Express project.
Investigators believe that the duo then lied to TxDOT, saying that the land was under development, which resulted in the prices being significantly inflated.
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U.S. Attorney Malcolm Bales said during a press conference Thursday that Bollman and Blackburn also had a close relationship with a TxDOT employee, which they believe unfairly sped up the sale process.
“They developed a relationship with this TxDOT employee that was not at arm’s length,” said Bales. “In fact, it resulted in Blackburn and Bollman profiting at the expense of Texas taxpayers.”
According to the indictment, the duo made nearly $13 million off the sales with some of the land fetching more than $77 per square foot.
“We are not saying it’s against the law to make money when a citizen does business with a state agency,” said Bales. “It’s not against the law to make money, it’s against the law to cheat to make money.”
Dallas attorney Matt Orwig is representing at least one of the men and issued this statement following the indictment on Thursday:
The subject property sales were lawful and legitimate. Kevin Bollman and Wade Blackburn relied on their market experience and publicly available information to make these investments. They followed TxDOT’s processes and procedures. An independent appraiser selected by TxDOT appraised each property and the purchase prices TxDOT paid were based on those valuations, and were comparable to what other landowners received.
Bales said that Blackburn and Bollman will be allowed to surrender themselves and appear in a Sherman court on the charges on April 21.
No trial date has been set yet, and Bales said the FBI continues to investigate whether more charges will come forward.