Dallas Affordable Housing Developer Convicted Of Bribery
Ruel Hamilton, president of AmeriSouth Realty Group, has been convicted by a federal jury in Texas of one count of conspiracy and two counts of bribery of an agent of a local government. His trial lasted two weeks.
From 2013 to 2015, Hamilton paid tens of thousands of dollars in bribes to Carolyn Davis, a member of the Dallas City Council who was then serving as chair of the city’s Housing Committee. Hamilton also promised Davis a job once she left the council and in that position paid her more than $145K.
In return, Davis, who pleaded guilty to her role in the crime before her death in a traffic collision in 2019, supported Hamilton’s Royal Crest housing project. Among other actions, she voted to authorize a development loan and an award of a 9% tax credit for the development.
Hamilton made payments to Davis through a nonprofit run by Jeremy Scroggins, who also pleaded guilty to his part in the scheme. Scroggins testified that he cashed thousands of dollars worth of checks, solicited by Davis and made out to him personally or to the nonprofit, which was known as Hip Hop Government. Hamilton also made payments to Davis directly.
In 2018, Hamilton separately paid a $7K bribe to Dallas Council Member Dwaine Caraway in an attempt to persuade the mayor to put a paid sick leave referendum on the city council’s agenda, which he hoped would increase turnout in the polls, to the advantage of political candidates that he supported.
“Public corruption is one of the FBI’s top criminal priorities, it erodes the public’s trust and wastes valuable resources intended for taxpayers," FBI Dallas Special Agent in Charge Matthew DeSarno said in a statement.
"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," DeSarno said.
The FBI's Dallas Field Office conducted the investigation with the assistance of the Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Investigation division. Chief District Judge Barbara M.G. Lynn presided over the trial.
Hamilton now faces up to 25 years in federal prison — as much as five years for the conspiracy count and 10 years for each bribery county. Sentencing is scheduled for November.