What to Know
- John Wiley Price found not guilty of counts 1 through 7
- Jurors unable to reach a verdict on counts 8 through 11; judge declares a mistrial.
- Prosecutors could retry counts 8 through 11, though that is unlikely.
Longtime Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price was found not guilty of bribery and six other charges related to conspiracy Friday morning; a mistrial was declared on four charges related to income tax evasion where the jury was unable to render a verdict.
Price’s longtime county aide Dapheny Fain, accused of conspiracy to help Price and lying to the FBI, was also found not guilty.
"We're, of course, very gratified at the finding by the jury of no bribery whatsoever, but we are not surprised at that conclusion in light of the evidence," said Price's attorney, Shirley Baccus-Lobel, who added that she expected the verdict to fall in Price's favor.
Baccus-Lobel refrained from making any other comments except to say that Price and Fain were both headed back to work.[[414360543,R]]
"Hallelujah, citizens, they're back and they're doing what they've done every day," Baccus-Lobel said.
Following the trial, Price told The Dallas Morning News reporter Naomi Martin he was relieved with the verdict.
"Relieved. We were prayed up and therefore we didn't have to be preyed on," Price said.
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Both Price and Fain faced prison if convicted and Price could have been removed from his position on the commissioner's court -- a position he's held since 1985.
"The government got smoked in this case," said Chris Lewis, a former prosecutor in Dallas County, now a defense attorney.
NBC 5 asked Lewis to analyze what went wrong with the prosecution's case.
"Every single trial, from low levels to the most serious, is about telling a story," Lewis explained. "It's about credibility, and what we saw in this whole case is that there was no smoking gun. There was circumstantial evidence from the get go."
Prosecutors have four weeks to advise the judge whether they'll retry the tax charges. They also have four weeks to evaluate whether they intend to keep property seized in the investigation, including more than $460,000 in cash prosecutors said were ill-gotten gains.
U.S. Attorney John Parker said in a statement Friday he'll reconvene with his prosecution team to determine where they go from here, consistent with the court's timeline.
Lewis doesn't know what will happen.
"But I know what should happen," he said. "What should happen is the government should tuck its tail and should walk away from this."
The jury came to their decisions Friday following eight weeks of testimony and years of investigation by federal agents. The jury began deliberations last week and, on Tuesday, told Judge Barbara Lynn they were deadlocked on some of the counts.
The jury continued deliberations until Friday when they said they were at an impasse on counts eight through 11; for one through seven, their decisions were unanimous.
Prosecutors accused Price of taking around $1 million in bribes in the form of cash, cars and real estate for his influence in Dallas County business. They said Price failed to pay taxes on the bribes and other hidden income from outside businesses.
NBC 5's Ken Kalthoff, Noelle Walker and Don Peritz, along with The Dallas Morning News' Naomi Martin, contributed to this report.