No Stay in Forfeiture for Embattled Texas Official

     DALLAS (CN) – A federal judge refused to stay forfeiture proceedings against an embattled Dallas County Commissioner under investigation for criminal corruption.
     U.S. District Judge Sidney Fitzwater denied Commissioner John Wiley Price and assistant Dapheny E. Fain’s motions for a stay and for an extension of time to file an answer Monday.
     “Concluding that neither claimant has satisfied the standing requirement of § 981(g)(2) because neither has filed an answer, the court denies the motions,” Fitzwater wrote.
     Price and Fain had sought to delay the civil forfeiture proceedings until the federal criminal investigation is complete, but the government said they “failed to establish standing because their claims to the property are vague and because they have not filed answers to the amended complaint.”
     In May, the federal government filed a forfeiture complaint detailing the seizure of $229,590 in cash from Price’s home safe last June under a search warrant.
     They seized another $230,763 as the purported proceeds of a Grady Niblo Road property he sold to Dallas-area real estate developer W.O. Henry.
     In a 62-page affidavit, FBI agent Donald Sherman said the money came from crimes, including money laundering; bankruptcy fraud; bribery of public officials and witnesses; aiding and abetting; theft or bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds; and interference with commerce by threats or violence.
     “Price and others have conspired for Price to accumulate assets far beyond his disclosed means to save and/or pay for same since at least in or about 1995, the total value and nature of which cannot be accounted for but for the undisclosed and illegal income detailed below,” the Sherman affidavit states.
     Sherman accused Price and others of structuring cash income to avoid currency transaction reports at banks. The alleged co-conspirators have also commingled legitimate and illegal income to hide money-laundering operations, according to the complaint.
     In August, federal authorities sued Price’s attorney, John Carney, for $5.3 million in back taxes and penalties.
     The 15-page complaint accused Carney of a “pattern of tax avoidance.”
     Carney employs 27 people and has received dozens of federal tax lien notices since 2003, the government said. In 1991, it determined that a pair of Carney’s partnerships were tax shelters that “lacked economic substance.”
     Prosecutors asked to foreclose on an expensive North Dallas home titled to the Hatchett Trust, of which Carney’s mother is trustee.
     The government called it a “sham” trust that Carney established and controls.Campaigning as “Our Man Downtown,” Price has been in office since 1985. He is currently Dallas’ longest-serving county commissioner and was victorious in the Democratic Party primary in May.

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