Developer admits bribing councilwoman to support apartment project
A Dallas developer has admitted to paying bribes to a former city councilwoman in exchange for her lobbying efforts and votes to provide $650,000 in taxpayer money for his Fair Park apartment project, the U.S. attorney's office said,
Devin Hall pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery of an agent of local government receiving federal benefits, authorities said.
Hall acknowledged that between 2013 and 2015, he paid Carolyn Davis, then a Dallas city councilwoman who chaired the city's Housing Committee, at least $8,000 to "use her political influence to further his real estate projects," federal authorities said.
That amounted to Davis voting to steer a $650,000 forgivable city loan to Hall's Grand Park Place apartment project, adjacent to Fair Park, court records show. Davis later sought to give the developer an additional two years to complete his project and "urged her colleagues to do the same," prosecutors said.
The Dallas City Council approved both of those requests, authorities said.
Davis and her daughter were killed in a car crash last summer.
Hall said in his plea documents that he paid Davis in installments of between $750 and $1,000 in cash or funneled through an intermediary. And he promised to give her a consulting job once she was off the City Council due to term limits, authorities said.
It's the second alleged bribery case involving Davis and a Dallas developer. A second case is headed to trial in November involving Ruel Hamilton, who built affordable housing. Hamilton is charged with several federal bribery counts for allegedly paying to influence Davis in the form of illegal campaign donations for the candidates of her choice, prosecutors said.
Prior to her death, Davis pleaded guilty to pocketing $40,000 in bribes from Hamilton.
"We have repeatedly pledged to tackle public corruption from every angle, prosecuting bribe payers, recipients, and facilitators," said U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox in a statement. "In this case, yet again, we saw a real estate developer who purchased political influence, and a city council member who chose to line her pockets at the expense of taxpayers. The citizens of Dallas deserve to know that their elected leaders have only the city's best interests at heart, and that money doesn't interfere with government proceedings."
Hall faces up to five years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set.
He and his attorney could not be reached for comment.
A 2013 briefing on the deal to the city�s Housing Committee said Hall was general manager of Urban Mixed Use LLC, a �locally recognized developer, builder and property manager� that sought to �present a Transit Oriented Development project� on Elihu Street in South Dallas.
The proposal called for 38 "urban style apartment units." The Hall family partners had $2 million in lender financing but needed an additional $650,000 to begin the project, the proposal said.
"The Hall family has been in the demolition, asbestos abatement, commercial construction, planning and development business in Dallas for over 30 years," the proposal said.
Davis, first elected to the City Council in 2007, had been expected to testify against Hamilton at his federal trial before an admitted drunken driver slammed into the car in July 2019, killing both her and her daughter.
That earlier indictment alleges that Davis supported Hamilton's real estate project and helped secure a $2.5 million loan from a city housing agency in return for the bribe.
Matthew DeSarno, special agent in charge the Dallas FBI office, said in a statement that "Taxpayers and businesses expect the contract and development process to be fair and unbiased."