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By Jack Douglas Jr. | CBS11
DALLAS (CBS11) – Government prosecutors admitted yet another serious mistake Monday in their effort to prosecute County Commissioner John Wiley Price, saying they have found more material that should have been turned over to defense lawyers.
Prosecutor Walt Junker timidly told Judge Barbara Lynn about the government’s latest big flub – the third of its kind – moments after she’d dismissed the jury for the day.
It came just as they were expected to wind down their case against Price.
Lynn, still sore about the earlier mistakes, was not happy, telling Junker she was “losing confidence” that prosecutors could play by the rules.
“I will take this up tomorrow,” she said angrily.
Earlier in the day, Price’s lead defense attorney grilled IRS agents on the witness stand in an attempt to show they made mistakes in determining Price cheated on his tax returns.
Tensions rose in the back-and-forth between attorney Shirley Baccus-Lobel and two of the government’s star witnesses in their political corruption case against Price, alleging bribery and tax fraud.
Lobel was successful in getting IRS agent Rene Hammett to acknowledge she did not, in studying Price’s 2006 tax return, consider a “loan” that the commissioner could use to deduct what he owed to the IRS.
Hammett said she did not factor that in because it was only mentioned in the memo line of a check. Other than that, she said, “I saw no evidence it was a loan.”
Lobel also questioned the math for IRS agent Andrew Bishop, at one point getting him, in frustration, to say: “I’m just trying to be accurate with you.”
Hammett and Bishop were among the government witnesses that Judge Lynn said the defense could call back to the witness stand after earlier revelations that prosecutors failed to fully disclose their roles in the massive investigation of Price, his executive assistant, Daphney Fain, and his close friend, Dallas lobbyist Kathy Nealy.
Even before hearing about more withheld government evidence, Lynn had gotten mad at prosecutor Katherine Miller for a “completely improper question” to Bishop, suggesting an FBI surveillance picture, taken six years ago, could have instead been shot recently, and by the defense.
It was not immediately clear what impact the government’s continued errors will have on when prosecutors will rest.
Once that does happen, and defense attorneys begin calling witnesses, a big question will be whether Price will take the stand in his own defense.
His friend, Nealy, is scheduled to stand trial at a later time.