Price trial testimony focuses on Dallas County contracts

Testimony at John Wiley Price's public corruption trial Thursday centered on money, power, contracts and influence.

Jurors heard how the Dallas County commissioner fought for some companies connected to consultant Kathy Nealy, how his actions hurt other businesses and individuals vying for county contracts and how Price reacted if people got in his way.

When people were lost in the jail because of a switch in computer systems between 2004 and 2006, payments to Atos -- the company that held a big computer contract -- were cut off.

Kathy Nealy was the company's consultant and when she was paid by Atos she would make deposits into accounts controlled by Price. Testimony showed price pressed at commissioners court for Atos to get paid.

A confidential memo slipped to Nealy by Price as the county was taking bids to put its records on line showed the company Nealy worked for, armed with pricing information, became the low bid and won the contract when another company lost the bid.

The county's former chief information officer told jurors when he tried to reprimand an employee for sending information to price before he received it, the commissioner got in his face and called him a liar and racist.

“The government has done a great job presenting the case. But at the same time the defense team has done a great job as well by questioning the personal knowledge that each of the testifying witnesses had about the alleged bribery scheme,” said attorney Nick Oberheiden, who is observing court proceedings.

While there has been a lot made about payments to Price, no company executive who testified admitted knowing whether any consulting fees paid to Nealy went to the commissioner for favor.

A current vice president at Atos testified it was common practice to pay consultants to “manage relationships” with public bodies like county commissioners.