Federal Jury Returns Guilty Verdicts in Dallas City Hall Corruption Case

DALLAS—Following a trial that began in June 2009, and after several days of deliberation, a federal jury has convicted former Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Don Hill, 57, his wife, Sheila Farrington Hill, 45, D’Angelo Lee, 43, Hill’s Plan Commission Appointee, and others who were involved in a bribery and extortion scheme, in what was referred to locally as the “Dallas City Hall Corruption Case,” announced U.S. Attorney James T. Jacks of the Northern District of Texas. U.S. District Judge Barbara M.G. Lynn will sentence the defendants on a date to be determined.

U.S. Attorney Jacks said, “At the end of the day, the citizens of a community are the ones that ultimately decide what type of government they will have in that community. Whether at the ballot box or, as in this case, through its verdict as a jury, the citizens decide what is expected of their elected officials. Through this lengthy investigation and subsequent trial, the government presented compelling evidence showing that an elected official and many of those non-elected officials working around him, sought to use that position as a means to line their own pockets at the expense of the public. The jury’s verdict today shows that the citizens of this community do not want a government where the game is rigged and the people in positions of power seek to further their own interests before that of the citizens they are supposed to be serving.”

FBI Special Agent in Charge Casey said, “The FBI did its duty in this case and now the jury has spoken. The FBI followed the evidence—wherever it led—in a professional and impartial way. The FBI Agents, analysts, and other professional staff served the community exceedingly well in this investigation into the allegations of corruption within Dallas City government. I also extend my appreciation to the Agents of the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigative Division for their assistance in the investigation. Finally, I want to recognize the dedicated and skilled prosecutors in the United States Attorney’s Office for their strong partnership with us in the pursuit of justice.”

“The citizens of this community are truly the victims of this crime. They must believe that they can trust the officials they elect to do what is right and this verdict is a validation of that principle. Part of IRS-CI’s mission is to assure these honest taxpayers that everyone must comply with the same laws,” said Michael P. Lahey, Dallas Special Agent in Charge of the IRS Criminal Investigation.

Donald W. Hill, aka Don Hill, who was on the witness stand for nearly six days, was convicted on seven of nine counts charged, including one count of conspiracy to commit bribery concerning a local government receiving federal benefits; two counts of bribery concerning a local government receiving federal benefits; one count of conspiracy to commit extortion; one count of extortion by a public official; one count of conspiracy to commit deprivation of honest services by wire fraud, and one counts of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Sheila Farrington, was convicted on five of six counts charged, including one count of conspiracy to commit bribery concerning a local government receiving federal benefits; one count of aiding and abetting bribery concerning a local government receiving federal benefits; one count of aiding and abetting extortion by public officials; one count of conspiracy to commit deprivation of honest services by wire fraud; and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

D’Angelo Lee, 43, Hill’s Plan Commission Appointee, was convicted on all seven of seven counts charged, including one count of conspiracy to commit bribery concerning a local government receiving federal benefits; two counts of bribery concerning a local government receiving federal benefits; one count of conspiracy to commit extortion; one count of extortion by public officials; one count of conspiracy to commit deprivation of honest services by wire fraud; and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Darren L. Reagan, 50, described as a community activist, and the chairman and CEO of the Black State Employees Association, was convicted on two of four counts charged, including one count of conspiracy to commit extortion and one count of aiding and abetting in extortion by public officials.

Rickey Robertson, 43, of Cedar Hill, Texas, a local businessman/car dealer was convicted on two of three counts charged, including conspiracy to commit extortion. Robertson was also a principal of RA-MILL.

The government presented evidence that, beginning in 2004, Hill and his co-defendants entered into an association in which thousands of dollars in bribes were paid by co-defendants Brian L. Potashnik, 51, of Highland Park, Texas, and his wife, Cheryl L. Potashnik, 40, owners of Southwest Housing Development Company, Inc, through sham business contracts to the defendants. The government also presented evidence that Hill and Lee were involved in corrupt solicitation from developers in an effort to gain financial benefit. Prior to trial, others charged in the indictment pleaded guilty to their involvement in the scheme, including Brian and Cheryl Potashnik. In addition, Allen McGill, 66, the former president and vice chair of the Black State Employees Association of Texas, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit extortion. Andrea Spencer, 35, pleaded guilty to her role in the scheme, as have Kevin Dean, 44, and John Lewis, 46. Spencer admitted funneling bribes to Hill and Lee. Dean and Lewis admitted their role in extorting money from developer Bill Fisher. U.S. District Judge Barbara M.G. Lynn will sentence these defendants on a date to be determined.

The government seeks forfeiture of more than $700,000 arising from the convicted defendants’ criminal activity. The defendants waived a forfeiture trial before the jury and the Court will announce its findings at sentencing.

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