Back in June, just after the federal government filed a lawsuit asking for the forfeiture of some $229,000 seized from the home of Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price, outside observers predicted that such a detailed public account of Price's allegedly criminal activities meant an indictment was two months away, tops.
More than four months on, there's still no criminal charge against Price, and the embattled commissioner has a theory for that, namely "that the forfeiture case is nothing more than a desperate attempt to fill the holes of (the government's) misguided criminal investigation."
He floats that theory in a legal filing filed yesterday formally responding, after much delay, to the civil suit. It's clear, according to the filing, that the FBI has had a target on Price's back for 15 to 20 years.
"It is beyond serious discussion that, at a minimum, the government is attempting to put together a criminal tax case (or maybe it is a bribery case)."
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The thing is, they've been unable to find wrongdoing sufficient to charge him with a crime, Price contends. Instead, the government has been reduced to fishing for incriminating information through its "very clever" -- and unconstitutional -- use of civil forfeiture. Price was recently served by the court with a set of 25 interrogatories that boil down, essentially, to Just where, exactly, did you get all that cash we found in your house, and, while you're at it, any other money made since 1996?
To Price, forcing disclosure of this information represents at the very least an attempt to abridge his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and at most a move to "change the procedural landscape to protect citizens accused of crimes" to obtain a blueprint of a case without all the difficult police work.
In Price's case, one assumes, that work is ongoing.