DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price was seen dropping off a federal courthouse employee to work Wednesday morning. But that was as close to the building he would approach after his attorney cancelled their meeting with federal prosecutors to discuss the pending criminal case against him.
Price’s attorney, Billy Ravkind, claimed he called off the meeting because of all the publicity.
In June of 2011 the FBI raided Commissioner Price’s house, cars, and office in what court documents described as a bribery, money laundering and bankruptcy fraud investigation. Investigators seized more than $200,000 they found in a safe in Price’s Oak Cliff home.
An attorney for the law firm Jones Day, Matt Orwig is a former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas. “The government probably has the indictment date already selected. Usually, these meetings come pretty close to an indictment. They indicate a shift from the investigation phase of the case to the prosecutorial phase of the case, and that is what I think is happening here,” said Orwig.
Orwig and other legal experts said Price and others could be indicted this month. In office for almost 30 years, Price is Dallas County’s longest-serving commissioner.
News director of Dallas radio station Heaven 97, Robert Ashley said “The community is taking a wait and see attitude. There are some who believe he’s being victimized becasue of his years of activism, but others are somewhat suspicious.”
Ashley said any indictment against Price would be, “Major — like a local earthquake.” Many callers to Ashley’s show Wednesday afternoon expressed concern about the fact that more than three years has passed since the FBI’s raids.
“I believe if they had something on John, they probably went forth with it by now,” said one caller. And another listener agreed, saying if “there was something, they would have found it.”
But Orwig said these investigations take time and are scrutinized by the Justice Department; especially since Price is such a well-known public figure. “This will be a case reviewed at the highest levels and I would not be surprised if the attorney general would be aware of this case and informed about it.”
Price’s assistant, Dapheny Fain may also receive charges. Her attorney, Tom Mills, said prosecutors also invited Fain to a meeting, but that she declined to attend.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to comment to CBS 11 News about this latest development.
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