Judge Won't Halt Forfeiture of John Wiley Price's Seized Cash

Categories: Crime

jwp house.jpg
JWP's Lake Cliff home, which the Feds raided in force last summer.
Nearly half a million dollars seized by the FBI during its investigation of Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price are headed for civil forfeiture proceedings over the protestations of Price and his top aide, Dapheny Fain.

Both say the thick stacks of $100 bills -- confiscated from a safe in Price's Lake Cliff home and from the sale of property on Grady Niblo Road to a developer in 2011-- are the proceeds of business transactions made on the up-and-up. The government says it's all dirty money, accumulated through money laundering, pay-for-play schemes and bankruptcy fraud. Both Price and Fain have asked U.S. District Judge Sidney A. Fitzwater to hold off until the Feds complete their criminal investigation into his activities.

Fitzwater denied their motions to delay forfeiture proceedings Monday, citing their failure to file answers to the government's complaint. It isn't enough, he writes, to simply lay claim to the cash. He also denied Fain's request for a 90-day extension to file an answer. You can read the ruling after the jump.

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20 comments
ReplacementReferee
ReplacementReferee

JWP's crib is one big ugly yaller monstrosity. Figures.

And yellow is the perfect color for John Wiley Coyote.

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

Legitimate property sales don't involve stacks of hundreds.

MikeWestEast
MikeWestEast

The purpose of exercise was not to actually take the cash, but to prevent Mr. Price and Ms. Fain from spending it. It will go into an escrow account and await disposition of criminal trial. In the unlikely event they are found not guilty of all charges, they will get it back, probably with interest at current phenomenal rates.

Tim.Covington
Tim.Covington

As much as I personally believe that Price is probably guilty, I disagree with the forfeiture of the money until Price is found guilty. IMO, this is punishing him without the due process of law. And, I do know the US Supreme Court disagrees with me. But, I believe they are wrong when it comes to civil forfeiture.

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

Does this mean the Feds are gonna snatch some of Perot's cash?

This appetizer course just leaves me wanting more.

oakclifftownie
oakclifftownie

Good Grief Are Fain and Price really that Ignorant of today's cash transaction tracking rules ?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

kfries1
kfries1

 It's a good move to start the civil trial before the criminal trial as it hinders throwing money at lawyers for subsequent appeals ad nauseum. This assumes JWP hasn't stockpiled millions elsewhere and his puppet masters will not lift a finger. I'm betting this is just a prelude to JWP turning stool pigeon.

 

The belo(w)[1] is simply speculation.... If they've already agreed JWP is a snitch in secret it'll be a bit of misdirection. I've been wondering at the delays, perhaps they are building a case against whomever JWP will be testifying against.

 

[1] Lame pun intended.

roo_ster
roo_ster

While seeing JWP in distress is something I would normally applaud, I must join others in deploring these asset forfiture laws.  Seizing assets before it was proved they were gained illicitly is just plain un-American.

CraigT42
CraigT42

forfeiture laws are scary evil things.

I have no problems with seeing JWP get his due, and am hoping to see him in prison  orange before too long.  But how does any rational being  think that seizing private property before a court comes back with a guilty verdict squares with our constitution or the guiding principles of this country?

 

 

JSSS
JSSS

Wonder why these very good lawyers did not file answers on behalf of their clients? Is it because they couldn't deny the government's allegations?

CraigT42
CraigT42

 @MikeWestEast 

Keep dreaming.  The government does not pay interest on the money it steals, and they do not just give it back if you are acquitted either.  If JWP is acquitted he can look forward to spending at least 20% of that $500k on lawyer fees getting the money back from the state.

 

primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

@Tim.Covington Tough issue, but this is an in rem action (the money is literally on trial, not Price) and I am assuming the action occurred because the FBI believes the cash to be fruits of a crime.

WylieH
WylieH

 @CraigT42 I agree 100%... forfeiture laws make me really squeamish.

 

While we're on the subject of scary laws... some of the DWI stuff also makes me squeamish... confiscating driver's licenses in civil proceedings prior to obtaining a guilty plea/conviction and disposing of breath samples evidencing intoxication prior to trial-- making it virtually impossible to assert innocence through independent verification of the evidence.

 

What both of these have in common appears to be the overwhelming sense that somebody is "probably" guilty of something, so let's just skip the whole due process thing, 'cause it's a real hassle.

James080
James080 topcommenter

 @JSSS If you file an answer as a defendant in a civil suit brought by the government, you must then respond to all of the the government's discovery requests, such as deposition, interrogatories and requests for production of documents. Civil defendants can not stand behind the 5th Amendment by refusing to answer on the grounds of possible self-incrimination. Clearly, Price and Fain would damage whatever defenses they may have to the imminent criminal charges by submitting to discovery in the civil action. A deft move by the government attorneys. whether its fair or not is another discussion.

Tim.Covington
Tim.Covington

 @primi_timpano Then, they need to prove it by finding the owner of the cash guilty. IMO, seizing of personal property because it's "guilty" of a crime is a violation of the Fifrth Amendment. They are depriving an individual (thus punishing him) of his property without due process. 

CraigT42
CraigT42

@WylieH Putting those two classes of laws together makes sense actually. Forfeiture laws came out of the drug war, drugs and driving after having a few are both crimes that large portions of the population have committed at least once, but which society still attaches a stigma too if you have the bad luck to be caught

JSSS
JSSS

Actually, civil defendants (even third parties subpoenaed to testify in civil proceedings) can take the Fifth. Production of documents is another story. However, if they had filed answers, the court likely would have stayed the civil proceeding pending the outcome of the criminal proceedings. IMHO, the issue was that the lawyers coiuldn't in good faith file answers disputing the government's contentions, so they didn't file answers at all. Either that or they committed malpractice, and I think these lawyers are just too good to have done that.

WylieH
WylieH

 @James080  @JSSS Wow.  I'm certainly no fan of JWP... actually, that's an understatement.  But this doesn't really seem fair.

TexOHara
TexOHara

 @JSSS I agree, civil defendants can take the Fifth.  But it usually leads to a pretty quick victory for the plaintiff or government. In a civil case you're allowed to make a lot of noise about why the defendant is hiding something by invoking the Fifth, something one is not allowed to insinuate in a criminal case.

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