Jury selection starts Tuesday in John Wiley Price trial

Jury selection begins tomorrow in the corruption trial of Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price. Price and two associates are accused of taking bribes from businesses seeking contracts with the county.

It was seven years ago this month, that Mayor Pro Tem Don Hill was sentenced to prison, for taking bribes from developers in exchange for yes votes on the City Council for projects they were bidding.
It turns out the "feds" weren't done with Dallas.

The following summer the FBI was at it again, raiding Dallas County government offices and the home of County Commission John Wiley Price, who is arguably the most powerful elected official in Dallas County.

Eventually the Feds would formally charge Price with 11 counts -- accusing him of selling votes to those seeking contracts with the county - nearly $1 million dollars in bribes - cars, cash and land.

Paul Coggins is a former US Attorney who oversaw previous corruption trials of City Council members Paul Fielding and Al Lipscomb.

"It's certainly the most powerful politician I think charged at this point," Coggins said. "You're talking about a mountain of evidence, an indictment more than a hundred pages long. So, it's a case where the government is really going to have to crystallize it and make it clear to the jury what happened here."

The defense, says Coggins has to run the table to win - needing acquittal on all counts.

"The defense can't afford to pick off a charge here and pick off a count there," Coggins said. "If he's convicted at all, he's looking at prison time and if he's convicted on multiple counts, it's really a lifetime in prison."

Just picking a jury will be difficult. Price has long been a polarizing official. Price led protests in the early 90s resulted in short jail sentences. Angry confrontations inside Commissioner's Court stirred more controversy.

Price has steadfastly maintained his innocence. He goes on trial tomorrow with longtime assistant Dapheny Fain. But a third defendant -- political consultant Kathy Neal -- will get a separate trial.

She's a clear link between this trial and the one that sent councilman don hill and others to prison. She was given immunity to testify in that one. She'll be talked about a lot, but never seen in this one.

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