U.S. Court of Appeals Affirms Verdicts and Sentences of Last Remaining Defendants in Dallas City Hall Corruption Case
|U.S. Attorney’s Office August 07, 2013|
DALLAS—On Friday, August 2, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans, Louisiana issued a 32-page published opinion affirming the convictions and sentences of the last four remaining defendants in the Dallas City Hall Corruption case, including former Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Donald Hill, his wife Sheila Farrington Hill, former City Plan & Zoning Commissioner D’Angelo Lee and Darren Reagan, head of the Black State Employees Association. In so doing, the Court emphasized that the government’s evidence was “strong” and that it “amply” supported the convictions and sentences in a case “involving substantial and wide-ranging public corruption charges related to government-subsidized [housing] development projects in Dallas.” The announcement was made today by U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña of the Northern District of Texas.
“The successful resolution of this case would not have been possible without the tireless efforts of many dedicated public servants,” said U.S. Attorney Saldaña. “I commend their efforts.”
The opinion was released three months after the three-judge panel heard oral argument in the case. The appellate briefing spanned nearly 1,000 pages and included close to 20 issues. The opinion was the third released by the Fifth Circuit in this corruption prosecution. The first opinion was released in July 2012 and affirmed the conspiracy conviction of codefendant Jibreel Rashad, who was tried separately in January and February 2010. The second was released in October 2012 and affirmed the bribery and money laundering convictions of contractor Ronald Slovacek, who was tried in November 2010.
The appeal involving the final defendants, including Hill, Lee, and two others, followed a three-month trial that began in June 2009. Hill, who testified in the case, and Farrington and Lee were convicted of counts related to bribery, extortion and money laundering. Reagan was convicted of counts related to extortion. Hill received a sentence of 18 years, Lee and Reagan received 14 years, and Farrington Hill received nine years.
All of the defendants appealed their convictions, and two, Reagan and Lee, appealed their sentences. In affirming the bribery and money laundering convictions, the Court reasoned that “in order to obtain Hill’s political support for his housing developments, [housing developer Brian] Potashnik agreed to hire Farrington as a community consultant … [and] regularly paid Farrington … despite Farrington never having done any work for him. Hill and Lee also demanded that Potashnik involve various non-profit organizations in his developments, and these organizations then remitted part of their fees to Farrington…. Farrington used money from [her business] account to buy cars for Hill and Lee and made cash withdrawals from the account for Lee. In return for Potashnik’s cooperation, Hill, among other acts, pushed the City Council to approve a financing deal for one of Potashnik’s housing developments.”
In affirming the extortion convictions, the court noted that “[w]hile these machinations with respect to Potashnik were ongoing, the appellants were also involved in illegal schemes related to Potashnik’s rival, Fisher,” which culminated in “[t]he FBI … photograph[ing] Reagan giving Hill an envelope containing $10,000” after Reagan received one of the extortion payments from Fisher.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Leigha Simonton and Wes Hendrix were the lead attorneys in the appeals. The district court cases were investigated by the FBI and Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation. They were prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Chad Meacham and Marcus Busch and Ms. Saldaña, before becoming U.S. Attorney.