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Two guilty pleas in St. Louis parks embezzlement case

This is a follow-up to our May 30 post on an FBI investigation into suspected embezzlement in the St. Louis parks department. In that post, we discussed charges against two parks officials for allegedly using fraudulently padded invoices to take half a million dollars from the city.

Today, the two parks officials pleaded guilty to embezzlement charges. They admitted to creating a sham company, faking invoices and using those means to appropriate city money for personal uses.

Both officials appeared before a federal district judge in St. Louis.  Even with the two guilty pleas, however, it remains unclear, whether the investigation is really over.

The attorney for one of the parks officials was asked in court about possible cooperation by his client with a more wide-ranging investigation by authorities. The attorney declined to comment.

But the FBI is still apparently investigating the possible involvement of others in the scheme.

Authorities say the scheme went back to 2005 and did not end until this year. One reason why the FBI continued its investigation even after the indictment of the two parks officials is the concern that vendors who provided kickbacks to those two officials after inflating their invoices may have continued to do business with the city.

In any case, the case is likely to remain in the news for some time because the two officials who have pleaded guilty to embezzlement have not yet been sentenced.

When the two men are sentenced, factors such as remorse about what happened and cooperation in a wider investigation could play a role.

Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "St. Louis parks employees admit massive embezzlement scheme," Nick Pistor, September 9, 2013

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