In a sworn deposition filed in Dallas today, Dallas County Judge Jim Foster is quoted saying he has spoken with the FBI "on many occasions" concerning an ongoing FBI investigation of Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price and the southern Dallas "inland port" project.
Reached for comment this afternoon, Foster would only say, "I was under oath to tell the truth."
Price did not return phone multiple messages and e-mails asking for comment.
The deposition was filed and made public record by Price's lawyer, Mark D. Johnson of Addison. It was attached as an exhibit to a motion filed by Johnson asking a judge to appoint a special master to force Foster to answer Johnson's questions.
On May 4 Johnson shut down what was to have been a two-hour questioning of Foster concerning remarks he made to the Dallas Observer last February
about Price and the inland port. Johnson said he couldn't continue questioning Foster because Foster's lawyer, Christopher Weil, was chewing up all of the deposition time with objections.
Foster has accused Price and state Senator Royce West of using their official powers to slow down development of the inland port in order to pressure developer Richard Allen to hire southern Dallas political consultants.
Price's motion filed today states: "There is no excuse for Judge Foster and his attorney's conduct. As explained above, they delayed the deposition for six weeks through a series of non-returned phone callas, frivolous motions and meritless appeals. Then, when ordered for the third time to proceed with the deposition, they attempted to hide behind 24 objections in 48 minutes."
Last February 27, Price went to court asking a judge to let him question Foster under oath in order to decide whether to sue him. Such depositions are sometimes allowed under Texas law. A judge granted Price the right to ask Foster questions under oath.
At the May 4 videotaped deposition in front of a court reporter, Johnson, Price's lawyer, tried repeatedly to find out why Foster had said to the Observer, "It's all about a shakedown." Johnson also demanded to know who might have had told Foster that Price might be under a criminal investigation, even though Foster hadn't brought that up on his own in the deposition.
In response to a question from Johnson, Foster said, "I'm aware of an investigation being conducted, and I did not request the investigation."
"By whom?" Johnson demanded.
"The FBI," Foster said.
"Did you speak with the FBI?" Johnson asked.
"On many occasions," Foster said.
The deposition, which had been slated to take two hours, was suspended by Johnson after a total of 47 minutes of questioning.
The Observer's call to the FBI to comment on the deposition, made about 3:30 pm today, has not yet been answered.
A spokesperson for the Allen Group, the main developer of the inland port, said, "We have not seen the information you are asking about. We would never comment on our own litigation or anyone else's litigation, so we have no comment."
Johnson told the Observer late today that Price has had no conversation with the FBI concerning an investigation. "In the eight months since Judge Foster claims that he spoke with the FBI, the FBI hasn't said boo to Commissioner Price," Johnson said. "Not a word.
"Now, I don't know whether they conducted an investigation and found out he didn't do anything wrong, or if they didn't conducted an investigation at all, or if it's still ongoing. I don't know"