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Exec Gets 6 Months for Role in Dallas Scandal

AUSTIN, Texas (CN) - A former BearingPoint executive was sentenced Friday to six months in federal prison for lying to federal investigators in a public corruption investigation involving indicted Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price.

Helen Tantillo, 59, of Austin was also ordered to pay a $5,000 fine by U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks. She was convicted in January on two counts of making a false statement to law enforcement. She had faced up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count.

Price was indicted separately in July 2014, accused of taking more than $950,000 in cash, cars and real estate for supporting lucrative county contracts. Tantillo's employer submitted a bid in 2014 for a multimillion-dollar contract to digitize Dallas County's records, according to Tantillo's indictment that was unsealed last June.

A county selection committee recommended rejecting BearingPoint's bid, but the bid was allegedly saved by Price's intervention.

The jury concluded that Tantillo falsely told FBI agents that a temporary $10,000 increase in consulting fees paid to political consultant Christian Campbell "was to make a charitable donation to the favorite charity" of an unidentified Dallas County commissioner.

"Contrary to her false statement, Tantillo knew that the increase was at least, in part, in order to pay [Price co-defendant and political consultant] Kathy Nealy," prosecutors said in a statement. "The jury also determined that Tantillo told a second lie to FBI agents in that same interview when she claimed that, after an earlier interview with FBI agents, she called her former BearingPoint supervisor, who supposedly reminded her that the charitable donation was the reason for Campbell's increased monthly payment. Phone records and other evidence at trial demonstrated that this call never happened."

Campbell's pay raise "was at least in part in order to pay" Nealy, the indictment said.

Campbell pleaded guilty last year to bribery concerning a local government receiving federal benefits. He admitted to knowingly and willfully joined a conspiracy with Nealy and Price, among others, to "corruptly provide benefits to Price" in violation of federal law. Campbell said that when he opened his own consulting business, he "realized that Nealy exerted improper influence over Price" by paying Price for supporting her clients.

Price, known as "Our Man Downtown" by his constituents in south Dallas, has been in office since 1985. He is accused of taking cash bribes of more than $447,000, a new Chevrolet Avalanche every four years and a BMW 645Ci convertible that cost $191,000 to buy and insure.

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