Jury deliberations began today in the bribery/conspiracy trial of former Dallas Councilman Don Hill and four other defendants. Closing arguements concluded Wednesday morning.
(Read the complete jury verdict forms by clicking here)
Victor Vital, defense attorney for Hill's wife Sheila, concluded his presentation by playing one of the government's own wire tap recordings. On the phone call with Don Hill, Sheila details the work she has been doing for apartment developer Brian Potashnik.
The developer pleaded guilty and testified in the trial that he gave Sheila Hill a large consulting contract that was unnecessary under pressure from the councilman.
But Vital argued that Sheila Hill did legitimate work and earned every penny of the money.
Don Hill's defense attorney Ray Jackson was next to make his closing statement.
"The government got this case wrong. They rushed to judgement," Jackson said.
Another developer, Bill Fisher, was a government informant in the case. Jackson told the jury that several witnesses described Fisher as untrustworthy. Jackson said Potashnik never said that Hill did anything wrong. Jackson said the government has not proven any of what Don Hill is accused of in the indictment.
Prosecutor Marcus Bush in the government's closing statement countered the defense arguements point by point.
"It's about the money," Bush said of Sheila Hill's contract with Potashnik. "They were trying to better themselves, make a life for themselves."
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Bush recalled how Don Hill received $10,000 in cash that had come from developer Fisher behind a Dallas church. Hill claimed it was a campaign contribution but Bush said it was never properly recorded in campaign records and never deposited in Hill's campaign bank account.
"It's all just fiction," Bush said about Hill's story. "He lies repeatedly."
Testimony in the case began in late June. Also on trial as accused members of the conspiracy to extort bribes from the developers are community activist Darren Reagan, businessman Rickey Robertson and former Dallas Plan Commissioner D'Angelo Lee.