Two Months and Counting: Affidavit Outlines Price Case and Sets Clock Ticking on Indictments

Between the lines of a recently released FBI affidavit, we can spy the shape of a criminal complaint likely to come within the next two months in the Dallas County federal corruption case.

The affidavit, made public May 29 when it was filed in a civil action against Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price, clearly suggests that one of many charges the government likely will bring against the county's most powerful elected official will involve alleged collusion to sabotage the gigantic Inland Port project.

The Inland Port was a shipping and warehousing development that promised 30,000 new jobs to Price's own job-starved African-American and Hispanic precincts in the city's southern half.

But, according to Ross Perot Jr., chairman of the development company Hillwood and member of the powerful Dallas family that controls the competing Alliance Airport logistics center in Fort Worth, the Dallas development was a "direct threat" to the Perot family's interests.

Price should have been the lead warrior for the Inland Port. Instead, he appeared on the field carrying a bucket of Perot water. Why?

Consider these dates:

On August 27, 2006, The Dallas Morning News reports that a California firm called Allen and Co. has acquired 6,000 acres of land in southern Dallas where it intends to build one of the world's biggest logistics centers.

Two months later, at a Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce luncheon, Perot calls Dallas' Inland Port development a "direct threat" to Alliance.

In the days after that luncheon, Hillwood executives tell Fort Worth Star-Telegram reporter Mitchell Schnurman they are especially worried about public infrastructure money that might go to the Inland Port at the expense of Alliance. Mike Berry, president of Hillwood Properties, a division of Hillwood, says Alliance needs an infusion of $80 million to $100 million in public money for internal improvements, and several billion dollars for improvements to three highways: Interstate 35, Loop 820 and Texas 183.

Berry also expresses alarm over a land purchase option agreement signed in the Inland Port area by Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad, the primary rail carrier to Alliance. He says he is worried that public dollars spent on the Inland Port might encourage BNSF to shift some operations there.

"Why give them any reason to expand elsewhere?" Berry asks Schnurman.

On April 14, 2007, ground is broken in southern Dallas.

On May 1, 2007, according to the affidavit, Price's main political operative, political consultant Kathy Nealy, deposits in her business bank account two checks totaling $2,500 from Hillwood. Nealy then writes a check for that amount, with a notation on the memo line saying "furniture," and deposits it into a business account belonging to Price.

On that same day, Price insists that his fellow Dallas County commissioners delay an action to seek foreign-trade-zone status for the Inland Port. Price says it would be unfair to win foreign-trade-zone status for the Inland Port and not include other property in southern Dallas owned by Hillwood. A free-trade zone allows companies to manufacture and process goods with imported materials without paying excise taxes until the finished goods arrive where they will be sold.

The proposal to delay threatens the whole trade zone deal, according to angry Dallas city officials. An onerous federal application process that has already taken years will have to begin again from zero.

The proposal from Price is a major blow for Allen and Co., which has potential clients ready to ink deals, but only if the trade zone deal doesn't hang up.

Bill Blaydes, then a Dallas City Council member working to promote the Inland Port, last week remembered a meeting with Price about the deal at the time. Blaydes says he thought he and the commissioner were about to come to blows at one point.

"Things got into a shouting match," Blaydes says. "We were just both sitting across the table and going after one another. He called me that fat politician from North Dallas. He said I wasn't going to tell him how to run things in his area."

On May 2, 2007, the Dallas County Commissioners Court defies Price and approves the application for a trade zone without the Perot properties. Eventually, Hillwood gains entry into the zone.

On May 7, 2007, according to the affidavit, Nealy deposits another check for $2,500 from a "Hillwood entity." On May 19, 2007, Price deposits a check from Nealy payable to him in the amount of $4,000. Price took back $3,000 in cash.

On May 24, 2007, Price deposits a check from Nealy's company payable to Lakeside Bank in the amount of $9,700 in his personal accounts. He takes back $1,700.

On May 9, 2007, the Morning News reveals that Price, who had treated newly elected Democratic county Judge Jim Foster as a sort of personal protégé, is openly hostile to him after Foster defied him on the free-trade-zone issue. "Mr. Price kept his famous temper in check for Tuesday morning's meeting," the story says. "But he could not conceal his ire. ...

On September 9, 2007, the Morning News publishes a story in which a Hillwood executive says bluntly that the attempt to delay the free-trade zone was a move in favor of Hillwood:

"When it happens in South Dallas, personally, I would rather see that at Alliance," said Steve Boecking, a vice president with Alliance developer Hillwood Properties. "We're in business. We don't like to lose any deals."

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16 comments
Downndallas
Downndallas

As a voter in South Dallas, I hope the truth comes out one way or the other. If Price was involved in South Dallas losing the Inland Port deal, I hope he goes to jail for a very long time. But, I guarantee that Price wasn't/isn't the only one involved in this corruption scam and whatever other corrupt endeavors that the FBI finds. My only hope is that the wool will be pulled off of all involved (Rawlings and his many backers, West, other council members,etc.), and not just Price. God bless you, Jim. You're the best journalist in Dallas.

Bloodinthewater
Bloodinthewater

DC, you keep saying it is coming to City Hall? When? I think you know many have tried to get info out to a lazy, dense, disinterested media and a too often complicit HUD. Will something happen before all the whistleblowers get canned? Are you in DC DC?

Kergo 1 Spaceship
Kergo 1 Spaceship

Jim, I excite to follow this! Are the comedy duo of Archie and Arthur going to run the sh+thole called Dallas County when he's indicted?

Paul
Paul

No matter what the outcome, no matter what the evidence, no matter who goes to jail, the average African -- American in south Dallas will still voice the opinion that this is just whitey putting his boot on JWP's neck ... And one other thing, I guarantee that certain politicians and businessmen will be able to cast enough doubt in the jury's mind that they knew nothing about payoffs to JWP and will be able to show something acceptable for why the checks were written to Nealy ... And as for their going around south Dallas with JWP, well, he is a county commissioner and this is unincorporated land in his precinct.

Lancasterkid
Lancasterkid

Don't forget the Mayor of Lancaster, he sucked right up to Big John and I'm sure he didn't do it for nothing!

Halldecker
Halldecker

There wasn't as much proof of a conspiracy developed and orchestrated to delay and hinder construction to benefit an existing property and owner. Reunion Arena didn't lay out a mil or two during the vote on whether to approve the AA Center. Amon Carter Field and Love Field didn't come up with ways to stop construction of DFW. (that's a special case, the Feds told them DFW had to be built) Ft Worth, the governmental districts Alliance has built it, has been incredibly generous in tax breaks, incentives, etc.

Gem
Gem

Roll JWP, Roll!!!!! Come on baby, Roll on them rich white folk!!!!!!!!!!

Crw4751blueflag
Crw4751blueflag

If what this article state's is true.......and how the political process got done in the past, then why in HELL has no one in past was iindicted when construction projects like Alliance ...DFW airport....AA Center

Halldecker
Halldecker

The Perots, others not as prominent, put the Two Mil into Kathy's hands, some unknown part of it going to JWP. What's unspoken, if John goes down he starts squealing. And the Perots, others, aren't gonna like what he tells the Feds, not one bit. Feds then put in the position of indicting the Perots, or ignoring and fading the heat. At one point the Feds had the ... testicles ... to indict super-rich. They nailed two of the Billionaire Hunt bros for wiretapping HL's staff. (They got off when the trial was shipped to the Panhandle) Come on, do any of you really think JWP is going to take the fall without bringing others down with him?

watchingsouthdetroit
watchingsouthdetroit

JWP, others in Dallas city and county, and the Dallas Morning News who kept delaying this project and wanting more "studies" all should be investigated and prosecuted. Royce West should be jailed also - he was part of the shakedown. This was just bribery and people selling their government offices and positions for personal gain at the expense of many residents. Maybe one day the people of south Dallas will understand that JWP sold out thousands of construction jobs and thousand of permanent jobs in the inland port to line his own pockets. Their "man downtown" sold them out to the highest bidder. Maybe then they will elect some honest leaders.

mark zero (Jason)
mark zero (Jason)

Even more so than its economic impact on the City of Dallas itself would be the impact on the City of Lancaster. Look at this map and see why. I remember thinking that town would die when the tornado in 1994 destroyed part of the downtown and hundreds of nearby homes. Just imagine what all those jobs could mean to that little city, which somehow has survived nature's fury and economic decline. Imagine how local businesses would find it easier to survive and even prosper due to those workers spending a lot of their wages right there locally. And now think about how Cedar Hill, Desoto, Duncanville, Grand Prairie, and Mesquite would also all benefit from this, by supplying more workers, contracting businesses, even extra traffic to places like Town East Mall, Uptown Village at Cedar Hill, the Paragon outlet mall going up on I-20 in Grand Prairie, and so on. Price hasn't just betrayed the people who voted for him, he's betrayed the region.

Ruth
Ruth

Let's not forget the SALT "Welcome to the Neighborhood, Mr. Allen" committee. Does anyone remember the story about Mayor Mike, Willis Johnson, and Ross Perot, Jr. in a helicopter over South and West Dallas discussing its "potential." Potential for anything other than the inland port, it seems now.

NDG
NDG

Should the Perot's not go to jail for the involvement in this scheme? It strikes me heavily that the Perot's were obviously the ones controlling JWP's puppet strings, with Money! Why wouldnt charges also be handed down on the Perots?

Cutherd Cupcake
Cutherd Cupcake

This criminal bully's comeuppance is long overdue. The only sad part is that I will have to celebrate his 'demise' with a whole bunch of pasty white Republican Dallasites, who for my money are as despicable and racist as John No-So-Wiley Price.

DC
DC

The walls are closing in on many politico's in Dallas, not just JWP. Lets not forget about City Hall...........

 
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