by Jack Douglas | CBS11
DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The judge Monday in Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price’s federal corruption trial angrily lashed out at an FBI agent and a prosecutor for bringing up the name of an infamous real estate developer against her orders.
Prosecutor Nicholas Bunch was questioning Agent Darrell James on the witness stand about properties allegedly linked to Price when James mentioned the late Danny Faulkner, a once-flamboyant developer who was convicted for fraudulent land deals in the early 1980s that cost Dallas-area financial institutions $165 million.
U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn had previously ruled that any mention of Faulkner would be prejudicial against Price because he had no involvement with the crimes the commissioner is accused of committing.
So when James casually brought Faulkner up in his testimony, as part of his describing of Price’s land deals, prosecutor Bunch threw his hand up, as if to try to take the FBI agent’s words back before the judge heard them.
It was too late.
Lynn immediately stopped the testimony, ordered the jury out, and turned to James, asking why he disobeyed her orders.
Bunch tried to deflect damage away from his witness, telling the judge it was his fault for not reminding James about steering clear of Faulkner. He then sheepishly attempted to explain why the jury should hear about the dead developer — that someone Price had done business with had also, in unrelated deals, done business with Faulkner.
That’s when Lynn turned her ire at the prosecutor, saying, “I’m the one who decides what the jury hears.”
James was on the stand several hours.
Afterwards, the government turned their attention to Price’s cars, calling as witnesses a former BMW service manager and then a car mechanic.
It was part of the prosecutors’ attempts to show jurors Price had use of a variety of luxury and classic cars, all purchased by straw buyers so they couldn’t be traced back to him.
Price was in his fourth week of trial, charged along with his executive assistant, Dapheny Fain, with bribery, political corruption and tax evasion. His friend, political consultant and lobbyist Kathy Nealy, is also charged in the FBI’s case and is scheduled to stand trial at a later time.
Prosecutors also called local attorney Leon Carter, to answer limited questions — because of attorney/client privileges — about his representation of Price in a defamation lawsuit settlement and a land deal dispute.
In cross-examination, Carter was stunned when one of Price’s defense lawyers showed he was also in an FBI surveillance photo.
“Would it surprise you that you, yourself, was also a product of FBI surveillance,” attorney Shirley Baccus-Lobel asked, raising the picture so everyone in the courtroom could see.
“Yes it would,” said Carter, adding, “I’m more bald than I thought I was.”