DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – When FBI agents searched Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price’s house and county office last week, court documents obtained by CBS 11 News show investigators were casting a wide net.
Price’s attorney, Billy Ravkind, says he and his client still don’t know the reason behind the FBI’s investigation. “John, which is his fault, draws himself a lot of attention ‘cause he’s pretty outspoken and some people don’t like that,” said Ravkind.
The FBI searched for anything pertaining to powerful State Senator Royce West of Dallas. Senator West issued a statement that said, in part, “I am confident that any and all public projects that the commissioner and I have worked together on can meet and withstand public scrutiny.”
In the search warrant, investigators also said they wanted all documents pertaining to the organization “Service and Leadership Team” or SALT and three businessmen in the group, former Dallas Cowboy Pettis Norman, consultant Willis Johnson, and businessman Jon Edmonds.
They’ve reportedly been accused of pressuring Richard Allen, the developer of the Inland Port and Logistics Hub, for a deal. The hub is a massive warehouse and distribution center in south Dallas County.
Edmonds says he’s been subpoenaed by the FBI, and is cooperating. But he denies his group pressured the inland port developer.
CBS 11 News was unsuccessful in reaching Norman and Johnson didn’t return our repeated phone calls.
Commissioner Price and Senator West have denied any involvement in that group, but favored regulating the hub.
Former county commissioners court judge Jim Foster opposed the regulations, and says West pressured him to change his mind and back their efforts.
“He got very angry with me and he started to bang his fists on his desk, ‘you don’t understand, we need control over that inland port’. And I said you have to understand, I’m being perfectly clear, I’m not going to change my position,” recalled Foster.
Senator West declined comment on Foster’s claim.
Despite the searches, neither Price nor West has been accused of any wrongdoing.
Investigators also requested documents related to another company owned by Willis Johnson: Wai-Wize.
Records show Willis had four contracts with Dallas County. In 2005, he won a contract to install a redundant communications system for $152,978.
Records show between 2007 and 2009, Johnson’s company received three contracts for $167,290 for a bioterrorism grant managing existing satellite communications between area hospitals and law enforcement.
All three were no bid contracts – which is allowed under certain state rules.
CBS 11 News left messages with Johnson at Wai-Wize, but he hasn’t returned our calls.
CBS 11 News Reporter Jack Fink asked Price’s lawyer if he questioned his client why the FBI named these businesses. Ravkind responded, “He doesn’t even know.”
Another business that’s drawing the FBI’s interest has offices in DeSoto. It’s called Male Man Sales or MMS Company.
Records show Price’s assistant, Dapheny Fain, whose office and house were also searched by the FBI last week, owns the business.
Price’s campaign expenditures show he spent nearly $23,000 at MMS for a variety of promotional items, t-shirts, and printing.
CBS 11 News left a message for Fain at her business, but she didn’t return our call.