Criminal JusticeIssuesLocal NewsTaxes & SpendingReal Estate Developer Who Bribed Dallas City Council Members Gets Eight Years in Federal Prison

The Justice Department said real estate developer Ruel Hamilton can be seen on video offering a bribe to ex-councilman Dwaine Caraway.
November 12, 2021
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A federal judge sentenced a real estate developer connected to a kickback scandal in Dallas to eight years in prison on Tuesday for bribing two former city council members — Dwaine Caraway, who is in federal prison, and Carolyn Davis, who pleaded guilty before she died two years ago.

Caraway is serving a 51-month prison sentence after pleading guilty in 2018 to accepting bribes in another scandal involving a bus agency called Dallas County Schools, which Dallas County voters chose to shut down in November 2017.

Davis and her daughter were killed in 2019 by an intoxicated driver, who was later sentenced to 45 years in prison.

The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) announced in a press release that federal Judge Barbara M.G. Lynn sentenced Ruel Hamilton, the real estate developer in question, to eight years in prison and assessed a $150,000 fine. A jury had convicted Hamilton in June of one count of conspiracy and two counts of bribery of an agent of a local government receiving federal funds.

Lynn reduced Caraway’s sentence from 56 months to 51 months after he testified against Hamilton.

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In the press release, the DOJ provided a link to a video it said shows Hamilton bribing Caraway on August 3, 2018, by offering him $7,000 in exchange for supporting a ballot measure Hamilton believed would increase voter turnout to benefit Hamilton’s “preferred political candidates.”

Caraway reportedly testified in Hamilton’s trial that Caraway was cooperating with federal agents when he arranged a meeting with Hamilton in August 2018, giving investigators the opportunity to film the encounter in Caraway’s office.

The government said Hamilton was the president of AmeriSouth Realty Group when he paid tens of thousands of dollars to Davis from 2013 to 2015 in exchange for her support of a housing project called Royal Crest. Davis, who chaired the Housing Committee, had supported resolutions to grant a loan and a 9 percent tax credit for Royal Crest.

Hamilton promised Davis employment after she left the council and ultimately gave her more than $145,000 after she left office, in addition to making donations to the campaign account of a friend of hers, according to the DOJ.

Acting United States Attorney Chad Meacham commented on Hamilton’s criminal behavior after the sentencing.

“Even as he extolled his own generosity, Mr. Hamilton bought and paid for his influence at City Hall. He used money to ingratiate himself to lawmakers, subverting the democratic processes we hold dear,” Meacham said in the press statement.

“As my predecessors have said, the U.S. Attorney’s Office will not allow a kickback culture to fester at City Hall. Our prosecutors will not hesitate to pursue anyone involved in public corruption.”

Special Agent in Charge Matthew J. DeSarno had his own thoughts on Hamilton and corruption in North Texas.

“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,” DeSarno remarked. 

“Public corruption remains one of the FBI’s top criminal priorities and we will continue working with our law enforcement partners to pursue anyone involved in this type of scheme.”

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Hayden Sparks

Hayden Sparks is a reporter for The Texan. He has coached high school competitive speech and debate and has also been involved in community theater and politics. A native Texan, Hayden served as a delegate at the Republican Party of Texas Convention in 2016. He is on track to receive a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Liberty University. In his free time, Hayden is known to take walks around the neighborhood while listening to random music on Spotify.