Dallas Co. commissioner arrested by FBI

DALLAS — FBI agents arrested Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price Friday morning, ushering in a new chapter in what is arguably the most high-profile public corruption investigation in Dallas history.

The U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas, which is leading the investigation of Price, is expected to announce the specific charges at an 11 a.m. news conference.

Price's arrest means that a federal grand jury has completed its work and returned an indictment against the commissioner. That document remains sealed at this hour, meaning it's not clear what charges Price faces, or who else may be accused.

Price was arrested at an office building north of downtown Dallas around 8 a.m.; it's unclear what he was doing there. Three other defendants are expected to be in custody later this morning, sources said.

Tom Mills, the lawyer for Price's top assistant Dapheny Fain, said his client was surrendering to FBI agents at their Dallas headquarters this morning.

Two other defendants are expected to be in custody today as well, sources say.

Price and the others are expected to make initial appearances before a federal magistrate judge later this afternoon. Then they are expected to be released pending trial, which may not occur for a year or more.

News 8, which has followed the FBI investigation for three years, will have details as soon as they are available.

Price is one of the most powerful politicians in North Texas. Since he was first elected in 1984 as Dallas County's first African American commissioner, Price has made a career out of vocal, forceful advocacy of minority issues. He also has close ties to some of Dallas business elite, giving him great power and influence.

Known by many of his constituents as "Our Man Downtown," Price resides over District 3, which encompasses West Dallas, downtown, and a wide swath of southeastern Dallas, Hutchins and Seagoville.

He's been under FBI scrutiny since at least the summer of 2011. That's when dozens of agents searched his home and office for evidence of corruption. Agents also searched the homes of Fain and Nealy.

During that search, FBI agents seized more than $229,000 in cash along with a collection of expensive watches from a safe in Price's Oak Cliff home across from Lake Cliff Park.

Agents seized an additional $230,000 from a Dallas County builder, who was set to pay that money to Price for the purchase of a then-vacant 9-acre tract of land at 7001 Grady Niblo Road in Dallas. That builder has since taken control of that property and has built an apartment complex on it.

In March 2012, federal prosecutors filed a civil forfeiture lawsuit to keep the cash from the safe and the land sale, alleging they were part of an illegal scheme. That forfeiture case was put on hold pending the criminal indictments.


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