Legal tab for FBI probe of NTTA board member costing taxpayers over $148,000

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The corruption at the NTTA has got to be cleaned up. Let's hope the FBI does just that by the time this investigation is over….

Legal bill for North Texas Tollway Authority board member in FBI probe: $148,790 and counting
Transportation Writer
June 16, 2013

The federal investigation into possible conflicts of interest among current and former board members of the North Texas Tollway Authority is getting costly for the authority.

Already, legal bills to pay for a private attorney for one of its board members, David Denison, have reached $148,790, the authority has disclosed.

The investigation continues, as does the NTTA’s full cooperation, officials there confirmed Friday.

Denison asked the board in December to cover his legal expenses tied to the investigation.

Denison has said he has done nothing wrong and is cooperating fully. The request to cover his bills is in keeping with state law and board policy. The vote in December carried a caveat, however: If it is shown later that the investigation is tied to conduct by Denison that violates the law or board policies, he will have to reimburse the NTTA.

Denison, a former Lewisville mayor, has not been accused of any wrongdoing. No charges have been filed against anyone in connection with the investigation. The FBI has never said what it is looking for, or even confirmed the investigation.

When the investigation began in October, the NTTA did not announce it to the public. Instead, it disclosed the investigation to investors through an official statement tied to a round of bond sales. It confirmed the investigation when asked about it by The Dallas Morning News.

Since then, the authority has declined to comment on the investigation or reveal whom the FBI has approached. Some board members and other officials have said they have been approached, but details about the conversations have not been made public.

The silence was so deep, in fact, it was not clear whether the investigation had continued beyond October.

But, on June 8, in a 317-page official statement to investors related to a new round of $409.6 million in bond sales, the NTTA said for the first time that the investigation has continued.

“In October 2011, the Federal Bureau of Investigation interviewed several officials of the authority regarding any knowledge the officials may have concerning the conduct of certain current and former board members, including possible conflicts of interests pertaining to authority business,” the statement reads.

“The authority has no reason to believe that it is the target of the investigation or that the investigation will [damage the NTTA’s ability to make its debt payments]. The investigation is ongoing and the authority is cooperating fully with the FBI. There can be no assurance that the investigation will be limited to the matters described above or that the authority will not become a target at a later date.”

The bond disclosure statement, required as part of the process, would ordinarily already be posted to the NTTA’s website, but that hasn’t yet happened.

The News discovered the document on a third-party site aimed at bond investors and confirmed its contents with the NTTA.

Spokeswoman Susan Slupecki said the NTTA is simply running behind schedule and will soon upload the document to its site.

She said the NTTA would not comment further, however, because the FBI has instructed officials not to comment about the investigation.

In a statement Friday, she said: “The NTTA has cooperated fully with the FBI. Consistent with that cooperation it will not comment on the FBI investigation beyond what it has disclosed in its official statements.”

Since Denison asked the board to cover his legal bills in December, Slupecki said, NTTA chairman Kenneth Barr has also asked the authority to cover his legal bills. That request, however, is pending.

Barr, who has not been questioned by the FBI, has only had $400 in legal bills associated with the matter, she said.

“In his role as the new chairman of the board, Chairman Barr consulted with legal counsel to be prepared should he be contacted by the FBI. Chairman Barr has not been contacted by FBI.”