Dallas Affordable Housing Developer Indicted For Bribery
A Dallas developer is facing federal charges for allegedly bribing two former city council members to garner support for two affordable housing projects.
City Wide Community Development Corp. CEO Sherman Roberts was indicted this week, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas confirmed to Bisnow. Roberts faces one count of conspiracy to commit bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds and one count of bribery concerning a local government receiving federal benefits.
Roberts could not be reached for comment at his place of business on Friday.
The DOJ alleged in a press statement that one former city council member voted to authorize $1.9M in city funding benefiting Roberts' Serenity Place housing project and recommended a Low-Income Housing Tax Credit for Roberts' project in exchange for cash payments. The DOJ also alleges the former council member used her influence to force competing developers to withdraw applications for tax credits to increase Roberts' chance of securing funding.
A second council member is alleged to have received $600 in cash plus the promise of a $60K payment and a $2K monthly stipend in exchange for stopping the city council from asking Roberts for a request for proposal on his Patriot's Crossing project and for the council member's vote in favor of the project, the DOJ said.
D Magazine identifies the two former council members involved in the alleged bribes as Dwaine Caraway and Carolyn Davis. Davis, who previously pleaded guilty in another development bribery scandal, died in an auto collision in 2019.
Sherman told Bisnow in 2019 that Dallas has too many rules that make affordable housing projects unfeasible economically. At the time, a Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General report alleged the city had misspent $6.6M in HUD funds, and Sherman said the city of Dallas was trying to extend its oversight of affordable housing while providing fewer benefits to developers.
Roberts is the third developer in the Dallas area charged with bribery in two years.
Developer Devin Hall pleaded guilty in August on a bribery charge tied to the Grand Park Place apartment project, and AmeriSouth Realty Group executive Ruel Hamilton is slated for trial in February for actions related to the Royal Crest housing project, according to the DOJ.
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office is determined to restore Dallas’ trust in its city government by systematically dismantling the ecosystems that allowed this sort of corruption. We continue to attack the problem from every angle, targeting bribe payors, recipients, and facilitators,” U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox said in a statement.
“Cities flourish when leaders have only constituents’ best interests at heart. We will not stop until that goal is achieved.”