Price’s Lawyer: ‘Every Penny Can Be Accounted For’

By Bud Gillett, J.D. Miles & Matt Goodman,

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – County Commissioner John Wiley Price’s attorney acknowledged reports Wednesday that FBI agents removed $100,000 in cash from his client’s home Monday, although he said he hasn’t viewed an official search warrant.

FBI agents stormed Price’s home and office along with those of Kathy Nealy, his political consultant, and Dapheney Fain, his assistant.

Agents also went to the office of county clerk John Warren to obtain Price’s financial disclosure statements.  The county requires Price and all other commissioners to file the statements every year.

Billy Ravkind, Price’s Dallas-based attorney who also represented former councilman Al Lipscomb when he faced federal bribery charges, said he expects the FBI and IRS are each looking for evidence to support bribery charges against his client.

Ravkind said he is confident his client can explain any money the FBI took from the home, whether that amounts to the $100,000 that some reports have alleged the FBI took from his client’s safe or not.

“I can’t comment on that, but what I will tell you is simply this: If they found anything in the home, every penny can be accounted for,” Ravkind said. “Now, I’m not saying they did, because at this point in time I haven’t seen the search warrant.”

Ravkind said he’s hired his own forensic account experts to analyze Price’s automobiles, his real estate transactions and any finances attached to his 20-year sponsorship of Kwanzaa Fest.

In searching the three, the FBI targeted the founder, president and director of Kwanzaa Fest. An FBI spokesman declined to comment about whether the warrants are related to the festival, citing the ongoing investigation.

Kwanzaa Fest is a two-day cultural and educational event that began in 1991 and attracts more than 50,000 people annually to Fair Park. Last year, the FBI was forwarded an investigation of Kwanzaa Fest conducted by former agent Danny Defenbaugh.

That investigation accused Price of refusing to turn over financial and tax records from the 2007 and 2008 events. It also listed the names of 22 deputy constables who claimed they were coerced into providing security for the event without pay.

One of those deputies, speaking on condition of anonymity, said he worked the festival for nearly 18 years.

“The best of my recollection, we got comp time from Dallas County for one year and the rest of it was voluntary,” the  deputy said. “But, really, it was more or less pressured unto.”

The Precinct 5 deputy elaborated, saying he was essentially told he would not be allowed to work an off duty or extra job if he did not work the event.

Jaime Cortes, the former constable over Precinct 5, disputed the allegations, saying that working the event was strictly voluntary.

“I’m not going to say much other than I’ve always thought that report was a farce and to this day I still believe that,” Cortes said. “I’ve worked it since 1997. It was one way to give back to the community and I would do it again.”

Tax returns from 2007 and 2008 show the main activities of Kwanzaa Fest involved mailing educational publications to more than 1,700 households.

The organization’s revenue from those years is listed at about $200,000. According to the returns, 49 deputy constables provided security during the 2007 or 2008 festivals and reportedly received a total of just $15,000 from the county.

Twenty two of the deputies claim they were not compensated for the event, which is not sanctioned by the county.

According to the investigation, some of those deputies claim vendors told them they paid an additional fee for security. But at least one of those deputies said they didn’t see a dime of it.

“They told me, yeah, we had to pay two fees; one for the booth fee, and the other one for security,” the anonymous deputy said. “Me and the other officers looked at each other and said we never received the money. I thought it was unfair and I was made to do something against my will.”

Ravkind said he believes his client will be indicted, though he’s unsure of what. He declined to reveal any explanations Price has for cash taken by the FBI and did not discuss the Kwanzaa Fest investigation.

“I prefer the easy way, and that’s show that we can explain it, show that we can account for everything,” he said. “We have an explanation for everything we did.”

Three of the federal search warrants executed Monday – two for Price’s cars and one for his person – concerned any electronic storage devices, including things like personal computers, mobile phones, personal data assistants, iPhones, iPads, disks and thumbdrives.

The warrants also sought any computer cookies and passwords dating back to 2001, in addition to safety deposit box keys and any sums of cash found of $500 or more.

Federal authorities will not discuss the motive of Monday’s searches.

CLARIFICATION: Ravkind never confirmed that the FBI took $100,000 from Price’s home, he merely acknowledged the reports. He did not confirm nor deny that federal agents took any specific amount of money, as the story above notes.

  • Jason Laughlin

    So, that 100K discovered to be missing Monday from the County Clerk’s office? It was planted there, wasn’t it?

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  • Sam Beaux

    Now lookie here! I seez dat the blue-eyed devil be framin’ Mr. Price.

  • Hemroidious

    Kwanza here, Kwanza there, let’s all join the Kwanza money trail. hey, ho here a kwanza, there a kwanza, there a hundred thousand dollars, oh, that’s just a Kwanza gift. Are you a racist? Must be if you doubt the Kwanza….hey ho!

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    […] Price’s Lawyer: ‘Every Penny Can Be Accounted For’ County Commissioner John Wiley Price’s attorney acknowledged reports that FBI agents removed $100,000 in cash from his client’s home Monday, although he said he hasn’t viewed an official search warrant. Go to News Source […]

  • Jason Szabo

    Mr. Wiley Price……….needs to pay the price and get the hell out of Dallas.

  • EFC

    This is just another case of the white establishment trying to take down another strong black man who has over the years stood up for him self and the black community. If the people were not paid and had a problem why didn’t they complain at the time . No they want to try and take down Mr. Price simply because he’s always told the white man to kiss his but and even today they can’t stand a black man in any position of athority over tthem .This hold thing was brought about by the same racist who keep trying to keep a black man down even in todays society. The one that still have that klan , jim crow mentally. All blacks to them should still go to the back of the bus and not drive a Bentley.

    • Jonathan Hutson

      I am not here to condemn Mr. Price. Considering the fact that he has yet to be indicted and so far has only been tried in the media, for me to voice an opinion regarding his guilt or innocence would be improper and certainly premature.

      That having been said, it is as easy to criticize the deputy constables for not comin gforward as it is to criticize Mr. Price. I do know that when you work for a Constable as a deputy comstable, you are subject to his decisions. You work when and where you are told to work. Your off-duty employment is restricted by policy as well as what your boss dictates.

      Assuming that this occurred, I don’t find it all unusual that nothing was said at the time about not being paid. People need ther jobs, and with Texas an “at-will employment” state, people can be fired for no reason. Had I been in those men’s shoes, I would have done what I was told to do, and would not have spoken up.

      This is one of three things: (1) an innocent man who is the target of a HUGE conspiracy theory and who is being persecuted for his politics and skin color; (2) a politician who has violated the law, or (3) something in between.

      The only thing that I find sad about your commentary is that you seem to paint this situation with the color “white.” i find that not only sad, but unfair as well, when you consider that the deputy constable interviewed by CBS 11 is black.

      Does that make him an “Uncle Tom?”

    • Hemroidious

      and you forgot jake leg.

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  • Hemroidious

    “said he expects the FBI and IRS are each looking for evidence to support bribery charges against his client”. I would say that a 100K is a pretty good start.

  • Pine Box

    Why they are really messing with Mr. Price, why don’t they check out some of the other you so called commissioners thats getting over too! Leave this man alone and worry about all the Illegals Mexicans that or working downtown for these constuction companies!!

  • Truthbetold

    I would really like to see all the commissioners investigated, that way no one could say this is a result of “skin color”. I wonder how much corruption there really is in Dallas?

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