Dallas real estate developer Ruelle Hamilton convicted of bribery of two former city councilors – CBS Dallas / Fort Worth

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Dallas real estate developer Ruel Hamilton was convicted on Tuesday, June 29, for bribing two former Dallas city councilors, Caroline Davis and Dwayne Caraway.

After two weeks of trial, a federal jury convicted Hamilton, president of AmeriSouth Realty Group, on one count of conspiracy and two counts of bribery of a local government agent who received federal funds.

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Ruelle Hamilton (CBS 11)

“Dallas residents deserve real government employees, not those bought and paid for by the urban elite. By using the money to subdue elected officials to his will, Mr. Hamilton has betrayed the communities he claims to hold dear, ”said Acting US Attorney Prerak Shah. “The US prosecutor’s office will not allow a culture of kickbacks to emerge in the mayor’s office. To anyone who contemplates this kind of unscrupulous behavior: think twice. Our prosecutors are persistent and we are determined to root out corruption wherever we find it. ”

“Corruption in society is one of the FBI’s top criminal priorities, and it undermines public confidence and wastes valuable taxpayer resources,” said FBI Dallas Special Agent Matthew J. DeSarno. “Mr. Hamilton used his influence and money to bypass the system by bribing two city councilors to earn incentives for an affordable housing project and to promote the program to increase its political clout. The FBI and our law enforcement partners will continue to hold full accountability for those who gives bribes, accepts bribes and facilitates their payment ”.

From 2013 to 2015, Hamilton paid tens of thousands of dollars in bribes to Caroline Davis, who was then chairman of the city’s housing committee, according to evidence presented in court.

In turn, Ms. Davis, who pleaded guilty to her role in the scheme before her death in 2019 – Supported Mr. Hamilton’s Royal Crest housing project by voting in a Real Estate Development Loan and deciding to grant a 9% tax credit to Royal Crest. Ms Davis supported the Royal Crest housing project despite not meeting the city’s listed priorities for apartment buildings.

In an attempt to hide the bribes, Mr. Hamilton channeled payments to Ms. Davis through a nonprofit intermediary run by Jeremy “J” Scroggins. Mr. Scroggins, who had also previously pleaded guilty, testified in court that he cashed thousands of dollars’ checks requested by Ms. Davis and drawn either to him personally or to his non-profit Hip-Hop Government. Mr. Scroggins testified that he spent $ 15,000 on the Freedom Ride tour in November 2014 and cashed the remainder of the checks, transferring most of the money to Ms. Davis. The councilor said that payments to Mr. Scroggins would not be a problem because people “don’t go to jail for $ 2,000,” according to a recorded telephone call in court.

The evidence showed that Mr. Hamilton also paid Ms. Davis directly. In the course of the plot, Mr. Hamilton split the cash and at least once invited her to accompany him to the bank to withdraw cash. At the insistence of Ms. Davis, Mr. Hamilton also channeled campaign donations to his political protégé. In addition, Mr. Hamilton promised Miss Davis a job as soon as she stopped using a lawyer. Evidence showed that Mr. Hamilton paid Ms. Davis over $ 145,000 after she left the board.

At one point, Mr. Hamilton worried about the former city councilman running his finances with a tooth comb, telling Ms. Davis, “she scares me.” Despite this, he continued to bribe Ms. Davis.

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Three years later, in 2018, Mr Hamilton paid a $ 7,000 bribe to the mayor of Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway, who Mr Hamilton believes could have persuaded the mayor to put a paid sick leave referendum on the city council’s agenda.

Mr Hamilton said he hoped the referendum would increase voter turnout, which would give his preferred political candidates an edge.

The video, taken as testimony at the trial, shows the couple meeting in Mr Caraway’s office on August 3, 2018:

“I want to do this, so … what can I do for you right now, today?” – asks Mr. Hamilton.

“You can answer the bill I just issued for 62 years. [$6,200] today, replies Mr. Caraway.

“Okay,” says Mr. Hamilton. “Can you agree with the mayor?”

The couple then discuss what Mr. Hamilton should put on the poster line so that if anyone ever asks, I can come up with a link.

Mr Hamilton, who was originally indicted in February 2019, faces up to 25 years in federal prison – up to five years on conspiracy charges and up to ten years for each count of bribery. (He was acquitted of the charge of using an interstate facility to commit bribery in violation of the Travel Act, for which the charge was sentenced to up to five years in prison.)

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His sentence is set for November 9, 2021.

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