A jury on Tuesday afternoon convicted developer Ruel Hamilton on three charges of bribing two former Dallas City Council members to support his apartment complexes in southern Dallas. Prosecutors must have felt pretty good about their case, because the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas had this press release ready to go:
Following two weeks of trial, a federal jury convicted Ruel Hamilton, the president of AmeriSouth Realty Group, of one count of conspiracy and two counts of bribery of an agent of a local government receiving federal funds.
“The people of Dallas deserve true public servants, not those bought and paid for by the city’s elite. By using money to bend elected officials to his will, Mr. Hamilton betrayed the communities he purports to hold dear,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Prerak Shah. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office will not allow a kickback culture to fester at City Hall. To anyone considering this sort of unscrupulous behavior: Think twice. Our prosecutors are tenacious, and we are determined to root out corruption wherever we find it.”
“Public corruption is one of the FBI’s top criminal priorities, it erodes the public’s trust and wastes valuable resources intended for taxpayers,” said FBI Dallas Special Agent in Charge Matthew J. DeSarno. “Mr. Hamilton used his influence and money to circumvent the system by bribing two city council members to earn incentives for an affordable housing project and push an agenda to increase his political influence. The FBI and our law enforcement partners will continue to ensure that those who pay bribes, accept bribes and facilitate bribe payments are held fully accountable.”
The star witness in the trial was Dwaine Caraway, the former Dallas City Council member who is now serving a prison sentence in a separate corruption case, and who told jurors he accepted money from Hamilton. A second City Council member, Carolyn Davis, who died in a car crash in 2019, had previously pleaded guilty to taking bribes.
This is in some ways a sad story Dallas has heard before, of City Council members screwing over poor constituents for their own gain. But whereas the feds have previously gone after Black politicians, this case marks the first time in Dallas that prosecutors and the FBI have charged a white businessman accused of illegally lining their pockets. Hamilton faces up to 25 years in prison; he will be sentenced at a later date.