newsCrime

Without explanation, former council member Dwaine Caraway moved from federal prison to Dallas jail

Even the U.S. attorney’s office was unaware of the move until Caraway was in his new cell.

Dwaine Caraway, an inmate of the Federal Bureau of Prisons for the past six months, is now in the Dallas County jail for reasons that remain unclear. Even the U.S. attorney’s office was unaware of the move until Caraway was in his new cell.

In May, the former Dallas mayor pro tem reported to Big Spring in West Texas, home of the low-security federal correctional institute and prison camp. That’s where federal prison officials sent Caraway after he was sentenced in April to 56 months behind bars for admitting to taking about $450,000 in bribes and kickbacks from the men responsible for the downfall of bus-and-crossing-guard agency Dallas County Schools.

Shortly after that, Caraway was moved to the federal correctional institution in Seagoville, a 25-minute drive from Dallas. Being closer to home likely made it easier for federal prosecutors to meet with Caraway, who is expected to testify against low-income housing developer Ruel Hamilton. He’s scheduled to stand trial early next year.

This was the last time Dwaine Caraway was seen in public -- leaving the Earle Cabell Federal Building on April 5, after being sentenced 56 months in a federal corruption case.
This was the last time Dwaine Caraway was seen in public -- leaving the Earle Cabell Federal Building on April 5, after being sentenced 56 months in a federal corruption case.(Shaban Athuman / Staff Photographer)

Prosecutors allege Hamilton made separate bribe payments to Caraway and former City Council member Carolyn Davis, who was killed this summer in a car crash caused by a suspected intoxicated driver. In recent court filings, Hamilton maintained that those payments — the $40,000 Davis said she received, a $7,000 check cut to Caraway — were nothing more than charitable donations.

In court filings last month, the U.S. attorney’s office said Hamilton was “actively pushing Dallas City Council members to take official actions to benefit him financially and politically and eagerly paying them for doing so.

When sentencing the former council member in April, U.S. District Judge Barbara M.G. Lynn told Caraway that because of his numerous health issues, she would recommend to the Bureau of Prisons that he be allowed to serve his time in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. He’d asked to go to Seagoville but was sent instead to Big Spring. It was the first time the 67-year-old Caraway had ever lived outside the Dallas city limits.

And now he’s home again — for how long, no one knows or is willing to say.

Dallas County jail records show Caraway was transferred to the Lew Sterrett Justice Center on the morning of Oct. 30. Upon book-in, Caraway had a new mugshot taken, revealing a man thinner and grayer than when he was last seen in public earlier this year.

The county’s website shows Caraway was moved back to Dallas by the U.S. Marshals Service.

Dwaine Caraway, left, and Carolyn Davis in 2014, around the time Davis said she took money from developer Ruel Hamilton. Caraway got a $7,000 check from the developer four years later.
Dwaine Caraway, left, and Carolyn Davis in 2014, around the time Davis said she took money from developer Ruel Hamilton. Caraway got a $7,000 check from the developer four years later.(Mona Reeder / Staff Photographer)

“I can confirm that Dwaine Caraway is currently in U.S. Marshals custody,” said Lynzey Donahue, a spokeswoman in the Arlington, Va., headquarters. There would be no further information, she said, “for privacy, safety and security reasons."

Seagoville, like Big Spring, is considered a “low-security” facility. Caraway is now being housed in a single-prisoner cell in the basement of the maximum-security North Tower at Lew Sterrett.

Via email, Donahue said to contact the U.S. attorney’s office “for your question on the reason for his move from his designated BOP facility.” But a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Dallas was initially unaware of the move when contacted Wednesday.

“The Federal Bureau of Prisons and U.S. Marshals Service decide where federal inmates are housed,” said Erin Dooley. “We became aware of Mr. Caraway’s transfer to Dallas County jail after it happened.”

Earlier this year, the federal government actually asked Lynn to keep Caraway out of prison — and to delay his sentencing — until he could testify against Hamilton. Lynn refused, saying she would “assume” Caraway’s cooperation in the case against the developer.

During Caraway’s sentencing in April, the government rescinded its request — much to Caraway’s and his attorneys’ surprise. Prosecutors instead asked the judge not to consider Caraway’s assistance in the Hamilton case until it’s provided in court. Caraway’s attorneys said later that they feared this added time to his sentence.

The former council member’s lawyers declined to comment Wednesday about his new home, however temporary.

Robert Wilonsky. I'm the city columnist of The Dallas Morning News -- or, as you might know it, DallasNews.com. Born and raised in Dallas, like my dad.

rwilonsky@dallasnews.com @RobertWilonsky

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