DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – For weeks, Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price’s Bentley has generated a lot of speculation. FBI agents searched the luxury car late last month.
The very next day, Price told CBS 11 “I got if from a dealer.” When asked which dealer, Price said, “It used to be on Oak Lawn.”
That dealer along Oak Lawn Avenue is now abandoned. But at the time Price bought the Bentley, It was known as Andretti Motors.
CBS 11 has learned the FBI first became interested in Price’s car one year ago. Sources say the FBI wanted all of the information about the sales transaction that took place here at the dealership.
We’ve learned two employees of the now defunct dealership have been subpoenaed before a federal grand jury. The FBI declined comment.
Federal Investigators want to know all about Price’s finances and assets, including his vehicles — specifically, how he paid for them. Search warrants show agents are looking for evidence linking price to theft or bribery, money laundering, tax evasion, and fraud.
Former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas, Matt Orwig, says investigators are trying to answer questions they have about Price’s transactions. “He has some explaining to do. i’m sure the government has its theories on where these vehicles came from, assets that were used, and the meaning and context behind them.”
John Carney is one of Price’s attorneys. “I’m consistently amazed at how much attention this car has gotten.” Carney says Price traded up for his Bentley, and worked with a particular salesman over the years. “The fact that a salesman he’s worked with calls him up and says they got a trade-in, would he be interested, shows up, and buys the car – it’s not more newsworthy than you and I buying a car.”
Records show before Andretti Motors obtained Price’s Bentley, it was owned by a man named Gary Stephens, who is now serving a 12-year prison sentence for embezzling nearly $1.5 Million from his former employer, Baylor University Medical Center.
CBS 11 learned before being charged, Stephens traded in his Bentley for another car at the dealership.
Price acknowledges there were problems with the Bentley’s title, problems his attorney says stemmed from Stephens. “In the process, weren’t able to release the title, cleared the title, and needed to get a clear title,” says Carney.
Price went through a hearing at the tax collector’s office to eventually get a clean title. The commissioner, an avid car collector, has denied any wrong-doing.
Carney says price currently owns six personal vehicles.