Didn't see this coming: Jibreel Rashad's guilty! Rashad, of course, was among the myriad defendants named in the feds' indictment in the Dallas City Hall corruption case, and, like those who came before him -- those who pleaded guilty or those who were convicted -- he's looking at a stay in federal prison, 20 years max. It took a jury all of two hours to find Rashad guilty after the week-long trial wrapped this afternoon.
Here, then, the U.S. Attorney's statement short-handing the case against The Convicted Extortionist Formerly Known as Vernon Cooks Jr., who also faces a $250,000 fine. U.S. District Judge Barbara M.G. Lynn has set sentencing for May 7. Ron Slovacek, by the way, is the final defendant set to be tried in the case; his trial date isn't scheduled yet. Maybe Sam or Jim can remind me why he hasn't cut a deal.
During Rashad's trial, the government presented evidence that Rashad participated in a conspiracy with co-defendants, Don Hill and his Plan Commissioner D'Angelo Lee, to extort thousands of dollars from James R. "Bill" Fisher, a low-income housing developer and FBI informant.
In late 2004, Rashad, Lee and co-defendant Rickey Robertson, a car dealer, partnered to form RA-MILL, a sham development company. Lee's interest in RA-MILL was hidden. Rashad and Robertson pressured Fisher to hire RA-MILL for construction contracts, even though they were unqualified. They made extortionate demands on Fisher for cash payments and construction contracts on Fisher's affordable housing projects. When Fisher didn't meet their extortion demands to their satisfaction, Hill and Lee, using their official positions, caused the City Council and the City Plan and Zoning Commission to postpone consideration of the developer's zoning change application for a proposed tax credit project located in District 5.
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.