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County Officials Question NTTA Oversight Following Announcement Of FBI Investigation

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A prominent Dallas County Commissioner called for increased oversight of the North Texas Tollway Authority days after the agency revealed to investors that the FBI was investigating current and former board members concerning potential conflicts of interest.

On Friday, the NTTA, which brought in nearly $400 million last year in tolls alone, notified bond investors that the FBI is investigating “…the conduct of certain current and former board members, including possible conflicts of interest pertaining to authority business.”

“Ninety-five percent of companies like this have a written conflict of interest policy,” County Judge Clay Jenkins said. “NTTA does not, and I think it’s time we get one.”

News of the months-long investigation became public just days after a comprehensive independent audit of the agency showed it needs stronger ethics policies to prevent perceived conflicts of interest.

The report also recommended splitting up large, no-bid contracts that NTTA board member and Duncanville City Manager Kent Cagle says cost the agency and, possibly, customers more money.

“I think we’ve paid more than we should have, but just how much – and its impact on rates – I couldn’t tell you that,” said Cagle, who added that the FBI did not contact him as part of its investigation.

Cagle said the board has previously rejected splitting up the large contracts.

The FBI is not commenting on the specifics of the case, and current NTTA board chairman Kenneth Barr did not return requests for comment.

News of the investigation has also drawn the interest of customers who use the agency’s toll roads.

“I only take the toll roads when I absolutely have to,” said Allen resident Nathaniel Prosser, who often drives into Frisco and Dallas for work. “It would be very frustrating if something did come to light.”

The NTTA says it is cooperating with the FBI’s investigation.

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