John Wiley Price Investigation: Sure, We're Speculating Here, But It's Informed Speculation

Look, I hate it when people tell me stuff and then won't tell me how they know it. I generally apply about a 50 percent discount to information like that. So I'm about to do the same thing to you: tell you a bunch of stuff I have been learning about the ongoing FBI public corruption investigation surrounding Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price and then tell you I can't tell you who told me.

These are things I have learned from very good sources who have spoken to me on condition of anonymity. I invite you ... no, because you are the Friends of Unfair Park, it's more than that: I expect you to call bullshit on me. It's the price I must pay.

But here's what I am hearing, anyway:

The FBI investigation, which went public June 27 with raids and subpoenas, will run about another nine months before indictments. There will be indictments.

This will be an IRS case, to some significant degree, what's sometimes called a net worth case. FBI investigators are out beating the streets toting up everything Price has ever received for free or less than full price from anybody and everybody, including free haircuts. Did he declare those corn-rows? One day we will know.

The FBI has revised its dragnet backward at least once, asking for even older records than originally sought. Nobody I have talked to can figure out why.

There may or may not be some wrong ideas in the heads of the feds. They seem to think some of the companies they are looking into are plain-Jane false fronts. They're not. They're real companies that do real business. You can argue about how they get the business. But they are not transparently fake deals like some of the arrangements we saw in the 2009 Dallas City Hall federal corruption case that brought convictions of city council member Don Hill and several associates.

Those were fake. These are just iffy.

This case grew directly out of information the feds gleaned from witnesses in the Hill investigation and trial. It has everything to do with the Inland Port story. There is some anticipation -- not certainty but a sense of possibility -- that the FBI probe will go uphill from Price to include people who may have engaged in some tit-for-tat with him on major public policy issues.

Rich white men?

Price had more than cash in the safe the FBI opened in his house June 27. There were expensive watches -- already reported -- and gold bars. Don't know the value.

Both the government and the defense team are already talking to jury consultants. Billy Ravkind, lawyer for Price, told me he did mock jury studies in Dallas before the Al Lipscomb corruption trial in 2000 and found that Lipscomb needed two types of people on his jury in order to get an acquittal or a hung jury: black people and/or rich white men.

Rich white men?

Yeah. Ravkind said rich white men on his mock juries looked at the favors and piddly cash payments Lipscomb had received from businesses in return for favorable votes on the city council over the years and said, in Ravkind's words, "This is just bullshit."

The way of the world.

More on the jury consultants here Monday. Oh, by the way, I talked to them on the record and will name them, so you won't have to say, "Schutze is just bullshit." Which I invite you to say now. I'm not. But I invite you to say it anyway.

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Jim Schutze has been the city columnist for the Dallas Observer since 1998. He has been a recipient of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies’ national award for best commentary and Lincoln University’s national Unity Award for writing on civil rights and racial issues. In 2011 he was admitted to the Texas Institute of Letters.
Contact: Jim Schutze