DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – As FBI and IRS agents investigate Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price, legal experts say it always comes down to following the money.
FBI search warrants show agents are looking for any evidence of theft or bribery, money laundering, fraud, and tax evasion.
Matt Orwig is the former U.S. Attorney in the eastern district of Texas. “Find the flow of money,” he suggested. “What money was used to purchase a particular asset and then where the money went after that asset was sold or disposed of. If it did come from an illegal source, was there anything given in return?”
Orwig says investigators are combing through Price’s assets.
The commissioner’s 2010 personal financial statement, filed earlier this year, shows Price owns or co-owns seven properties in Dallas County. While two of the properties are houses, the rest are vacant lots.
Property records show a total value assessed at nearly $750,000.
Besides land, records show Price owns nine vehicles, one of those a 2005 Bentley. FBI agents searched the car late last month.
Price’s salary as commissioner is $130,000. The amount has increased over the 26 years he’s been in office. Back in 1991 his salary was reportedly $75,000.
During the FBI search, Price’s attorney confirmed that investigators reportedly found at least $100,000 in a safe inside Price’s house.
“It just prompts further inquiry. Why do you have it [the money]?” questioned Orwig.
CBS 11 Financial Analyst Jim LaCamp says he can’t speak to Price’s situation, but says in general, “I’ve been dealing with wealthy people for 25 years and none of this is consistent with the way wealthy people build wealth. You don’t have people sitting with $100,000 in a safe for example.”
Price’s attorney, Billy Ravkind, wasn’t in the office when CBS 11 News called Tuesday. But recently Ravkind has said he has hired forensics accountants to review Price’s finances.
“That’s what I’m doing now,” he said. “I found nothing. I found nothing. Zero.”
Price hasn’t been charged with any crime, and he and his attorney have denied any wrongdoing.
Price’s 2010 financial statement also shows he has several money market accounts and two mutual funds. The document also shows Price earns income from interest, dividends, and a rental property.