"The brain trust, as I refer to it, said, 'You're insane. You can't do it. Your die is cast. You've signed the contracts. There's nothing improper about it. Terminating would make it appear as though they're improper. The man recused himself,'" Fisher says.

Backes dissolved the Provident Odyssey partnership in April 2004, but Fisher and Jafar continued their work under the name Odyssey Residential Holdings LP, where Fisher remains employed as vice president and Jafar is president and general partner. Today, now that the controversy from the federal case has settled down, Odyssey has an affordable-housing development proposed near UT Southwestern Medical Center and plans to build more projects in Dallas.

Fisher says Nealy also vouched for the character of Darren Reagan and spoke glowingly of his organization, the Black State Employees Association of Texas Inc. Reagan would eventually be convicted of extortion for demanding consulting contracts from Fisher in exchange for securing Hill's support, and federal prosecutors would prove that BSEAT was a sham organization set up to shake down local businesses. Reagan was sentenced to 14 years for extorting Fisher. In a separate case in 2008, he also was sentenced to a year in prison for scamming the government by using his elderly mother-in-law as a front to pocket $40,000 in public housing money.

Before agreeing to become an FBI informant, Bill Fisher says he considered the words
of 18th century statesman and political philosopher Edmund Burke: "All that is necessary
for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
Mark Graham
Before agreeing to become an FBI informant, Bill Fisher says he considered the words of 18th century statesman and political philosopher Edmund Burke: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
Two stories by former KTVT-Channel 11 reporter Sarah Dodd in September 2003 alerted the feds to the corruption at Dallas City Hall.
Mark Graham
Two stories by former KTVT-Channel 11 reporter Sarah Dodd in September 2003 alerted the feds to the corruption at Dallas City Hall.

Today, Fisher says he doesn't believe Nealy profited from any illegal bribes, but she definitely steered him in the wrong direction on a couple occasions. "I would have liked to not have been told I was using the wrong security company, and I think she had a duty to tell me that Reagan had a bad reputation and the whole organization was suspect," Fisher says.

Still, did prosecutors cut Fisher a deal on the Fantroy contracts in exchange for his becoming a wire-wearing witness? Nealy, who didn't return phone calls for this story, stated in court that her attorney ensured she wouldn't be prosecuted in exchange for her testimony, but Fisher claims he had no such agreement with the feds. Prosecutors did tell him in late 2008, shortly after Fantroy died, that he wouldn't be indicted. By then, a five-year statute of limitations had passed on the Fantroy deal, Fisher says, but that's beside the point. The fact that he never sought immunity from prosecution proves his hands are clean. "If I or the company had done something wrong, we'd have an immunity agreement," he says. "We're not unsophisticated."

Fisher also points out that his contracts with Fantroy's security company were small change compared with the roughly $500,000 the government alleged Potashnik's company funneled to Don Hill and his wife to secure Hill's support for two Southwest Housing projects.

"A half-a-million dollars versus them making three dollars an hour like a temp company or four dollars on top of somebody else's labor?" Fisher says. "I certainly consider those to be very different on the chart."

The government indicted Fantroy in an unrelated case and offered him a reduced sentence in exchange for his testimony in the corruption case. He rebuffed the offer and was sentenced in May 2008 to 30 days in prison and 180 days home confinement for embezzling more than $20,000 from Paul Quinn College. Fantroy died four months after his release at 71 from kidney cancer.

Attorney Vital says he's always been puzzled by the government's decision not to indict Fantroy. "I don't think I understand the reason why he was not involved except to involve him would lead to a very strong sentiment in the community that Fisher should also be criminally charged."

Once Bit and Twice Shy

Fisher might have been a misled lamb with the Fantroy contracts, but he soon wised up. In early September 2004, Fisher fielded a request to help pay the tuition for a supposedly needy student at Grambling State University. Jehrime Chadwick had run out of money while finishing his master's degree, and D'Angelo Lee asked Fisher to help Chadwick out. Fisher originally viewed it as a charity request and began communicating with Chadwick via e-mail, establishing rules about Chadwick's grades to ensure his money wouldn't be wasted. Since Fisher would be sending checks directly to the school, there was no chance of it ending up in the wrong hands.

Luckily for Fisher and unluckily for Chadwick, one of Fisher's lawyers, Susan Mead, had recently lectured him about not asking enough questions when dealing with public officials. When Lee called to remind Fisher to send about $5,000 for Chadwick's first semester, Fisher asked Lee to have Chadwick confirm that he wasn't related to anyone holding office.

"The first words outta his mouth were: 'Don [Hill] and I haven't done anything wrong,'" Fisher says. "I knew immediately it was corrupt."

Lee told him to tear up the check. Chadwick is Lee's cousin.

One month later, Fisher e-mailed his attorney, now deceased James Murphy, at 12:36 a.m. and asked if his attached list of "Top Ten +1 Brian Potashnik Misdeeds," accusing Potashnik of creating a charity for his own benefit, perjuring himself and reporting illegal tax deductions, should be brought to the attention of law enforcement. Ironically, his second complaint criticized Potashnik for attempting to "improperly influence" Fantroy, claiming he terminated security contracts with him because he refused to kill Fisher's project.

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6 comments
Bettyculbreath
Bettyculbreath

Good story, both developers are victims ,of Elected Officials greed.I hate Brian crossed the line,I still think he should not have been sent to prison.There are some guilty of much worse deed still in office and doing corrupt deeds daily.

Wharter_56
Wharter_56

Why isn't there an ongoing investigation of the DISD Supt. of Schools, who just happened to misplace $30MM + in budgetary funds?We've yet to hear a peep from the Dallas Morning News or any of the Dallas TV news commentators!

BC
BC

Is the City of Dallas lawyer Madeline Johnson still there? Sounds she was either crooked or incompetent for approving Fantroy's shakedown schemes.

David
David

Coming from someone who was in the conference room when the FBI announced themselves at the Southwest Housing offices, I think Bill and Brian did what was in their best interests at the time. Brian was convinced that the only way to get the projects done was to hand over money, and Bill thought that the only way to get out of his situation was to report. I don't fault either one of these guys for what they did. I know them both, and they are both great guys who, in the end, just want to build apartments for the needy and make some money doing it. What is wrong with that? The real criminals got the longest sentences.

Sam_Merten
Sam_Merten

Nope, she resigned in April 2005, two months before the FBI raids.

Guest
Guest

I know them both too. Brian great guy? Yes. Bill great guy? You gotta be kidding. Every time I'm around him I feel like I need a shower afterward he throws off so much dirt.

 
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