A Dallas real estate developer was sentenced today to eight years in federal prison for bribing two former Dallas City Council members Carolyn Davis and Dwaine Caraway, Acting U.S. District Attorney Chad said. E. Meacham.
In June, a federal jury convicted Ruel Hamilton, chairman of AmeriSouth Realty Group, of one conspiracy and two counts of bribing a local government official receiving federal funds. Mr. Hamilton was sentenced Tuesday by the Chief Justice of the United States, Barbara MG Lynn, who also ordered him to pay a fine of $ 150,000.
“Even though he praised his own generosity, Mr. Hamilton bought and paid for his influence at City Hall. He used the money to please lawmakers, overturning democratic processes that are dear to us, ”Acting US Attorney Chad Meacham said. “As my predecessors said, the US attorney’s office will not allow a culture of bribery to escalate at City Hall. Our prosecutors will not hesitate to prosecute anyone involved in public corruption.
“Today’s conviction reaffirms the FBI’s commitment to hold fully accountable those who pay bribes, accept bribes and facilitate bribe payments. Mr. Hamilton has learned that there are consequences to bypassing a system in place to protect taxpayers, ”said Matthew J. DeSarno, FBI Dallas Special Agent. “Public corruption remains a top criminal priority for the FBI and we will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to prosecute anyone involved in this type of scheme.”
According to evidence presented at trial, from 2013 to 2015, Mr. Hamilton paid tens of thousands of dollars in bribes to Carolyn Davis, who was then chair of the city’s housing committee.
In return, Ms Davis – who pleaded guilty to her role in the scheme before her death in 2019 – backed Mr Hamilton’s Royal Crest housing project, voting to authorize a real estate development loan and resolutions supporting the grant. a tax of 9%. credit to Royal Crest. Ms Davis has supported the Royal Crest housing project, despite failing to meet the city’s listed multi-family housing priorities.
In an attempt to cover up the bribe payments, Mr. Hamilton channeled the payments to Ms. Davis through a non-profit intermediary led by Jeremy “Jay” Scroggins. Mr Scroggins – who had previously pleaded guilty – said at trial he cashed thousands of dollars in checks, solicited by Ms Davis and made out to her name or to her nonprofit, “Hip Hop Government.” Mr. Scroggins testified that he used $ 15,000 for a Freedom Ride tour in November 2014 and cashed the remainder of the checks, giving most of the money to Ms. Davis. The city councilor said Mr Scroggins’ payments would not be a problem because people “aren’t going to jail for $ 2,000,” according to a recorded phone call played in court.
The evidence showed that Mr. Hamilton also paid Ms. Davis directly. During the conspiracy, Mr. Hamilton shelled out money and on at least one occasion invited her to accompany him to the bank to make a cash withdrawal. At Ms Davis’ request, Mr Hamilton also directed campaign contributions to a political protégé. In addition, Mr. Hamilton promised Ms. Davis a job after she was no longer a counselor. The evidence showed that Mr. Hamilton paid Ms. Davis over $ 145,000 after she left the board.
At one point, Mr. Hamilton became concerned that a former member of city council was carrying out his financial transactions with a “fine tooth comb”, telling Ms. Davis, “she scares me”. Despite this, he continued to bribe Ms. Davis.
Three years later, in 2018, Mr. Hamilton paid a bribe of $ 7,000 to Councilor Dwaine Caraway, which Mr. Hamilton said could persuade the mayor to call a referendum on sick leave. paid on the agenda of the city council. Hamilton hoped the referendum would increase poll turnout, favoring his favorite political candidates.
Video admitted into evidence at trial shows that the couple met at Mr. Caraway’s office on August 3, 2018:
“I want to do this, so… what can I do for you, now, today?” Mr. Hamilton asks.
“You can answer that bill that I just threw in there for about 62 [$6,200] today, ”replies Caraway.
“Okay,” said Mr. Hamilton. “Can you follow the mayor?” “
The couple then discuss what Mr. Hamilton should put in the line of the memo “for posterity” so that “if anyone asks me, I can find a reference.”
The accused was instructed to report to the Prisons Office in February.
The Dallas regional office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation with assistance from the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigations. Assistant US Prosecutors Tiffany H. Eggers, Joe A. Magliolo, Andrew Wirmani (fmr.) And Marcus Busch continued the case with the support of their Appeal Liaison Officer, Assistant US Prosecutor Stephen S. Gilstrap.