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Ruel Hamilton Sentenced to 8 Years in Prison for Bribing Dallas City Council Members

The developer will also have to pay a $150,000 fine.
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A federal judge sentenced Ruel Hamilton to eight years in prison on Tuesday, several months after the real estate developer was convicted of bribing two former Dallas City Council members to help him build apartment complexes in southern Dallas. Hamilton was also ordered to pay a $150,000 fine.

“Today’s sentencing reaffirms the FBI’s commitment to holding those who pay bribes, accept bribes, and facilitate bribe payments fully accountable. Mr. Hamilton learned that there are consequences to circumventing a system that is in place to protect taxpayers,” FBI Dallas Special Agent in Charge Matthew J. DeSarno said in a press release.

Hamilton’s trial saw testimony from former Dallas City Council member Dwaine Caraway, who got a few months knocked off of his own prison sentence for taking bribes in a separate case. Carolyn Davis, another former City Council member who had pleaded guilty to taking bribes from Hamilton, died in a car crash in 2019.

Video played during the trial appeared to show Hamilton agreeing to write Caraway a check for $7,000 so that Caraway would urge the mayor to put a referendum on the City Council’s agenda.

Prosecutors said Hamilton paid Davis tens of thousands of dollars in bribes. Some of it was funneled through a nonprofit called “Hip Hop Government,” whose founder, Jeremy Scroggins, pleaded guilty several years ago.

The case involving Hamilton was in part the impetus for a new ethics advisory commission reviewing the city’s code of ethics. A lot of recent Dallas history has involved real estate developers and city officials getting wrapped up in federal corruption investigations.

Hamilton will begin serving his sentence in February, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas.

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