The FBI dropped a bombshell in federal court today with an affidavit by Special Agent Donald Sherman as to why, exactly, law enforcement felt the need to seize more than $400,000 in cash (thick stacks of $100 bills) and other assets from Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price last year.
In broad terms, Sherman accuses Price, with the help of associates Dapheny Fain and political consultant Kathy Nealy, of bankruptcy fraud, money laundering, stealing federal funds and generally enriching himself through illegal means.
The real revelations, as always, are in the details.
The affidavit claims a pay-for-play scheme existed in which businesses would pay handsome consulting fees to Nealy's company at about the time they were seeking to win a contract with Dallas County. A portion of that money would be funneled to Price, who would steer the favored contractor through the Commissioner's Court.
For example, in 2001, Schlumberger was among a handful of companies competing for Dallas County's IT contract in 2001 when it paid Nealy more than $251,000. BearingPoint chipped in a total of $195,000 when it was seeking a contract to provide the county clerk's indexing and imaging system. And Atos, seeking a transfer of the IT contract in 2004, paid $234,000.
And just guess how many of those got Price's vote and ultimate approval.
It doesn't stop there. In April 2011, when Mike Rawlings and former police Chief David Kunkle were duking it out Dallas mayoral race and courting endorsements from southern power brokers, Rawlings' campaign paid $25,000 to Nealy for consulting work. According to the FBI, a good chunk -- $5,000 -- went to a bank account belonging to Price, who subsequently announced his support for the current mayor.
Then there's some shady land deals, a home furnishings business that seemed to cater to companies and individuals -- H. Ross Perot for example -- who were seeking Price's support in their dealings with the county, and Kwanzaa Fest, which Price used to pay a company that funneled money into his own pocket.
Bear in mind that these are still only allegations in a civil action and that a criminal investigation is ongoing. But it's a good read if you don't mind a few hundred paragraphs detailing financial transaction, and it gives the first clear idea of what's on the way for Price.
But first, marvel at the list of watches Price kept stashed in his safe, next to the pile of cash: Jacob & Co., Icelink, Breitling, Marc Jacobs, Versace, Chanel, Corum Boutique, Cartier, Rolex, Technolex, Glashutte, Philip Stein, Le Vian and Joe Rodeo. The man certainly knows the time.