FBI Confirms: It's Conducting Searches of John Wiley Price's Office and Home Right Now
Jim's on his way to Dallas County HQ at this very moment to watch with his own eyes as FBI agents search the downtown offices of Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price, as initially reported by KTVT-Channel 11. The CBS station also notes that "federal investigators have also been dispatched to Price's home and other locations, personal and professional, linked to him."
I just spoke with an FBI official in Dallas, who confirms: "We are executing search warrants, and that's all the information we can release right now." The agent said warrants are being executed at this very minute, and that no further information will be released today. Updates forthcoming as soon as Jim hits 411 Elm.
Update at 10:50 a.m.: Jim can't get in county HQ. "The FBI's not letting press in the building," he reports back. He's on his way to Price's house, where agents are congregating. We have a photog staked out at 411 Elm, to see if and when agents began bringing boxes out of the building.
Update at 10:55 a.m.: I just spoke with Dallas County Commissioner Maurine Dickey, Price's longtime nemesis, who said she found out about the raid from her assistant moments ago. Dickey says she was also told agents are in and out of Mike Cantrell's office, and that they're also at the home of Dapheny Fain, Price's executive assistant. Channel 11 says they're also at Kathy Neely's home.
Dickey's response to the news: "Should I dance, or should I sing?" She went on to compare this to the raid on Don Hill's offices: "What they did with Don Hill is they just showed up all of the sudden and swarmed all over his office. If past performance is an indication of the way things happen in the future, they're talking computers and records."
The scene from in front of JWP's house moments ago
Photos by Jim Schutze
Update at 11:36 a.m.: Jim, along with a reporter from every other media outlet in town, is now at JWP's 5th Street house. "They may be loading stuff into cars in the driveway," says Jim. Meanwhile, Leslie's at the council swearing-in, where Mayor Mike Rawlings -- who was endorsed by JWP -- won't comment: "This afternoon's council meeting, that's what I am focused on."
In the meantime, I just spoke with county spokesperson Maria Arita, who found out about the raid around 9 this morning and says that, look, since this is a federal inquiry, she doesn't know much and can say even less. She does want to clarify a few things -- chiefly, Dickey never should have told Unfair Park that FBI agents were searching Cantrell's office.
"I don't even know who the focus is," Arita says. "They're looking at the entire second floor, and they're at various locations in the city. A lot of people are trying to guess things, and there's no way to tell yet. The FBI, when they conduct an inquiry, even if you're on the floor you're affected, including Cantrell's staff. His office is not the focus of this. That's directly from the FBI.
"I also want people to understand in terms of county business, they also need to know we will have commissioners court as usual tomorrow. We have asked the FBI to be done if they possibly can by tomorrow morning. If people have specific county business they can come to the building, but the FBI will handle that on a case-by-case basis."
The forklift that just pulled up to JWP's house, which Jim mentions in his update below
Update at 11:46 p.m.: In a call to Unfair Park, the FBI confirms Arita's statement above that Cantrell's office is not the focus the search by federal agents. Jamille Bradfield, spokesperson for Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins, says his office "is not commenting" on the raid when I asked what Watkins knew and when.
Update at 11:51 a.m.: Jim reports back from Price's house that a worker from Complete Security just drove off. As he was doing so, Jim reports, "He said to media he'd been unable to get into whatever the FBI wanted him to open in the house."
Update at 12:44 p.m.: From Jim, "They just showed up with a forklift, presumably to get the safe the security guys couldn't." Meanwhile, Leslie spoke with Dwaine Caraway at the council swearing-in, and he said: "I am sure the system will pan itself out, and we'll deal with it as best we can. ... I am probably as surprised as everyone else, and my prayers are with him."
Update at 2:41 p.m.: Our Alex Scott is at the Greenville Ave. law offices of Billy Ravkind -- has been for the better part of the last hour and a half. Price is there now, and is expected to give a statement -- either himself or through Ravkind -- at any moment. Ravkind, of course, has been Price's attorney on and off through the years, and he represented, with Shirley Lobell, Al Lipscomb during his felony trial, with Lobell helping to get the bribery conviction overturned. Stay tuned. That statement, incidentally, will go in new item at the top of Unfair Park.
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