"I don't think any of the other defendants, had they chose to plead guilty, could have gotten a federal judge to come up to the courthouse for a plea on a Sunday," Jackson says of Potashnik. "I think that spoke volumes."

Brian Potashnik was sentenced to 14 months in prison, levied a $50,000 fine and was ordered to pay the city $1.25 million. Cheryl Potashnik received two years probation and a $50,000 fine. The sentences prompted Hill's mother and Farrington Hill's daughter to start a petition drive asking U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to reconsider Hill's 18-year sentence and the nine-year sentence issued to his wife.

"Their sentences were a gift from God," Fisher says. "I cannot imagine with their circumstances and what they had done in this case that they could have been anything other than ecstatic."

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.

Former U.S. prosecutor and SMU assistant law professor Jeff Bellin says prosecuting Fisher for any alleged misdeeds and securing a lengthy sentence for the Potashniks weren't major priorities for the feds. Their primary targets were Hill and Hodge. "They're not trying to make sure that everyone who commits a crime is suffering. They're really trying to deter public officials from engaging in corruption."

Fisher says one lesson to be learned from the difference between the Hills' and Potashniks' sentences is the obvious: Guilty defendants should cut their losses and plead. "You cannot go to trial. They're just gonna kill you." But he urges innocent defendants to "fight like hell and never give up," even though he admits there's "no real presumption of innocence" in federal court.

And no one knows that better than him.

Although he refers to the 13 months he spent behind bars for the situation with the Florida thrift as "the biggest disappointment of my life" and maintains that his involvement in the corruption case was more than he'd hoped, Fisher isn't unhappy with the federal government. "The government's system for ferreting out the truth worked for me in both instances, although it took a little longer in the first one than I prefer."

There is, however, one pending issue that Fisher wants resolved. He's seeking $1.8 million for the funds he invested in the two projects that failed to obtain council approval because Potashnik had bribed Hill. So far his request has been rejected in state and federal courts, but he's appealing.

"Our projects were mutually exclusive as a matter of law, so that when he bribed to get his, it immediately and directly—not indirectly, not the ripple in the water—became a rock to our head," Fisher says.

Two defendants—Ron Slovacek and Andrea Spencer—await sentencing for their roles in the corruption case, but Fisher's cooperation ceased at the end of Slovacek's trial in November. Now that it's finally over, Fisher says it's a clear win for his company and the public.

"The Potashniks and all those people were guilty as sin," he says. "It's all been ferreted out, and we helped do it. And no one can ever make the determination that Odyssey was dirty. That isn't the case. That's crystal clear today. We did the right thing. Everyone else did the wrong thing, and they paid the price. We were vindicated and are proud of our assistance."

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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.

Sam_Merten
Sam_Merten

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

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.

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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