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DALLAS (CBS11) – Jurors were told Wednesday that more than $100,000 in cash found in John Wiley Price’s safe actually belonged to his assistant – kept under lock and key so she wouldn’t go on a shoe shopping spree.
“She kept it in Price’s safe so she does not spend it… She does not know the combination,” said Chris Dellinges, a forensic accountant called to the witness stand by the defense for Price’s executive assistant, Dapheny Fain.
If Fain had known the combination, Dellinges said, she’d likely have given in to urges of going on shopping sprees.
“She’d buy shoes,” he added.
In June 2011, the FBI, armed with search warrants in its political corruption and bribery investigation of Price, found about $230,000 in cash in a locked safe at his home.
About half of that amount, Dellinges told the jury, actually belong to Fain.
Prosecutors assert the stacks of cash in Price’s safe came from bribes they say he took in exchange for steering lucrative county contracts to the corporate clients of another friend, Dallas lobbyist Kathy Nealy.
But Dellinges, in the first day of defense testimony in Price’s and Fain’s federal trial, said the FBI is wrong, as is the agency’s accusation that Price gave more than a half-million dollars to Fain to hide the profits of his crimes from the Internal Revenue Service.
Instead, he said, the money came in the form of small loans – with Fain promptly repaying Price before he would give her another loan – during a 10-year period.
The commissioner would loan her money, the witness said, so she could buy inventory for her outside retail business, Male Man Services or MMS, with her paying him back from the sales profits from those goods.
Dellinges told the jury Price was not required to report his business dealings Fain to the IRS because he never charged her interest.
“There is no income,” he said.
In fact, according to Dellinges, “he lost,” because she still owes the embattled commissioner money.