DALLAS - A former Dallas City Council member admitted she took bribes from a real estate developer while she was acting as an elected official.
According to a federal indictment unsealed Friday morning, Carolyn Davis said she accepted the bribes while chairing of the Dallas Housing Committee.
It happened between June 2013 and November 2015. Documents show she accepted around $40,000 and the promise of a consulting job from AmeriSouth Realty.
The AmeriSouth’s chairman, Ruel Hamilton, allegedly funneled about $29,500 to Davis through a not-for-profit organization. He also gave her about $11,000 in cash.
In exchange, David allegedly pushed an affordable housing project through the council. Hamilton's company was given a $2.5 million loan from the city to fund the Royal Crest low-income housing project.
"Councilwoman Davis also wielded her considerable influence as chair of the Dallas Housing Committee in Royal Crest favor lobbying in support of a 9 percent tax credit application. She also actively advocated for the project with Dallas housing officials. Davis admitted that she did not disclose any of these payments to the housing committee or the city council," said U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Erin Nealy Cox.
Davis pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery concerning programs using federal funds. She could be sentenced to up to five years in a federal and a fine.
Davis was on the city council between 2007 and 2015 and had hinted at possibly running for office again.
She was on the council with Dwaine Caraway, who also pleaded guilty last year to accepting bribes to vote for a controversial Dallas County Schools measure. He has not yet been sentenced.
The unsealed document mentions that Hamilton made a $7,000 bribery payment to “Council Person A” in August 2018. The government alleges that was Caraway.
“If you're a public official, do your job. If you’re someone that’s thinking of using your wealth and your financial influence to exploit them, think again,” said Eric Jackson, FBI Dallas special agent in charge.
Hamilton was also indicted on bribery charges, and faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted. But his lead attorney released a statement alleging he was set up by prosecutors.
"Prosecutors make mistakes all the time. Today, they added to the list by staging a set-up to trap and then bring charges against my client Ruel Hamilton. People in this city know Ruel to be a pillar of the community, a fierce advocate for civil rights and fairness to working people and an honest man. When this case is heard and the truth is known, Mr. Hamilton will be exonerated and we will look forward to our day in court to defend him,” Attorney Abbe David said.
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings expressed his frustration about the case in a statement.
"I join my fellow Dallas residents today in a shared sense of despair over a former councilmember’s betrayal of the public trust. I’m also sick and tired of the vultures who lurk around City Hall in search of corruptible public officials. There is no place in our government for those who cheat the good people of Dallas by offering bribes, just as there is no place for those who accept them. We should all be grateful for the work of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District, as well as the Dallas FBI and IRS for continuing to root out public corruption," he said.
The mayor said he has asked the city manager to review all housing projects connected to the charges.