No Court-Appointed Attorney for Official

     DALLAS (CN) – Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price cannot be represented by a court-appointed attorney in his federal criminal corruption case because he failed to show he cannot afford an attorney, a federal judge ruled.
     Price was indicted in July on eleven counts of conspiracy to commit bribery, tax fraud conspiracy, deprivation of honest services by mail fraud and subscribing to a false and fraudulent income tax return. His chief of staff and two political consultants were also charged.
     Federal prosecutors claim that from January 2001 to June 2011, Price pocketed more than $950,000 in cash, cars and real estate from political consultant and co-defendant Kathy Nealy in exchange for his influence on the Commissioners Court.
     U.S. Magistrate Judge Renee Harris Toliver denied Price’s motion for appointment of counsel on Monday, concluding the evidence shows he has “significant financial resources.”
     “Considering the evidence of defendant Price’s financial resources, including his sworn financial affidavit and the government’s response and attachments, the court finds that defendant Price has failed to demonstrate that he is financially unable to employ counsel,” the order states. “While defendant Price represents that he is likely unable to employ counsel of his choice, he has offered no evidence of his attempts to employ other adequate counsel.”
     Price is currently represented by his longtime attorney William Ravkind in Dallas.
     Prosecutors said the bribes paid to Price – averaging $5,000 to $10,000 per month – were never reported on Price’s tax returns or state-mandated financial disclosure statements that he signed under oath.
     “Nealy obtained lobbying or consulting agreements with businesses seeking contracts with Dallas County or had other business matters in Dallas County on which the Commissioners Court voted,” the July 23 indictment stated.
     “These businesses knew that Nealy had access to and influence with Price. At some point, these businesses would hire Nealy, and through Nealy, they would obtain inside information about competitors’ bids and other strategically helpful information, which they used to pursue and obtain lucrative contracts with Dallas County.”
     Nealy arranged meetings or dinners with Price for her clients, which often took place during periods where contact with elected officials are banned because the selection process for bids on county contracts were in progress, the indictment stated.
     The businesses paid Nealy for the duration of their dealings with the county so Price could continue to act in their favor, including refraining from voting against them, the indictment stated.
     More than $198,000 in real estate was “secretly funneled” from Nealy to Price, who served as a straw purchaser, according to the indictment.
     One month after Price’s indictment, a resolution to suspend him pending completion of his January 2016 trial failed along party lines.
     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.

%d bloggers like this: