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Embattled Dallas Official Won’t Face Suspension

DALLAS (CN) - A resolution to suspend embattled Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price regarding federal bribery charges failed along party lines Tuesday morning.

Commissioner Mike Cantrell - the lone Republican on the five-member commissioners court - proposed the nonbinding resolution that sought to temporarily suspend Price pending the completion of his criminal trial set for September 2015.

None of the other commissioners - including Price - seconded the resolution, resulting in its death without a vote.

Cantrell argued the county has policies for the arrest and conviction of county employees - policies that do not seem to apply to county commissioners.

He mentioned 18 deputy constables who were terminated in 2011 after an audit indicated possible improprieties.

Price, his chief of staff and two political consultants were indicted in July. The 64-year-old commissioner is accused of pocketing more than $950,000 in cash, cars and real estate in exchange for supporting bids on lucrative county contracts.

Known as "Our Man Downtown" by his constituents in south Dallas, Price has been in office since 1985. He ran unchallenged and was re-elected in 2012 amid an FBI investigation made public after an asset seizure worth more than $460,000.

U.S. Attorney Sarah Saldana said after the indictment that "abuse of public trust cannot and will not be tolerated."

"For more than a decade, in a shocking betrayal of public trust, Commissioner Price sold his office on the Dallas County Commissioners Court in exchange for a steady stream of bribes," Saldana said in July.

Price never reported the money - averaging $5,000 to $10,000 per month - on his tax returns or on the state-mandated financial disclosure statements that he signed under oath, Saldana said.

Cantrell's resolution, if approved, would have called for Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins - a Democrat - to file a removal action against Price and call for a state judge to appoint a replacement under the Texas Local Government Code.

Before the meeting, Cantrell told reporters he doubted he had enough votes to pass the measure, which he characterized as "symbolic."

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