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This story has been updated.
Thomas F. Eagleton U.S. District Court.
Three high-ranking St. Louis city officials have been indicted for federal corruption charges relating to tax abatements.
Former 21st Ward Representative John Collins-Muhammad, Board of Alderman President Lewis Reed and Ward 22 Alderman Jeffrey Boyd all face charges stemming from corruption and bribery schemes.
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St. Louis Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed.
An indictment obtained by the RFT
alleges Collins-Muhammad accepted money for his assistance in obtaining tax abatements for an unnamed business owner in his ward.
The allegations date back at least to January 2020, when a developer referred to in the indictment as “John Doe” requested Muhammad's help in getting a property tax abatement for a planned gas station and convenience store development in Muhammad's ward.
According to the indictment obtained by the RFT
, on January 28, 2021, Doe allegedly met with Lewis Reed, who was running for mayor at the time. Doe allegedly gave Reed $2,000 in exchange for Reed helping Doe obtain Minority Business Enterprise certification for his trucking and hauling company. The indictment also alleges Reed "agreed to help John Doe get contracts for trucking and hauling on future city construction projects" at the meeting.
On July 25, 2020, the indictment alleged that Muhammad and Doe met with Boyd at Boyd's banquet facility. At the meeting, Doe gave Boyd $2,500 in cash.
Boyd sent a letter to the Land Reutilization Authority saying he supported Doe paying $9,000 for a piece of land that Boyd had previously stated was appraised at $459,000.
Later on, Doe texted Boyd a thank you message for the help.
Boyd texted Doe back, "My pleasure. I'm very PRO BUSINESS."
In December 2020, the Land Reutilization Authority director and LRA staff recommended selling a property to Doe for $14,000. The LRA Commission accepted the recommendation and approved selling the property to Doe for $14,000 at its next meeting.
In a conversation with Doe, the indictment states Collins-Muhammad said, “Good. They wanted 70 at first. Very good. That means Jeffrey came through.”
At another point, the indictment alleges that Doe repaired a 2006 Chevrolet Impala for Boyd for free. Boyd requested that he receive a receipt for the repairs and it be stamped "paid" despite the repairs being done for no charge. When Doe complied, Boyd allegedly responded "Wundebar."
The indictment cites the specific ordinance that applies to aldermen, stating that, "No officer or employee shall, for private gain, grant any special consideration, treatment or advantage to any person. Nor shall any officer solicit or accept any payment or gift of money or any other thing of value for any service performed in his official capacity nor for the doing of any act which he is required by law to do."
Collins-Muhammad resigned as Ward 21 alderman in May. In an online statement, he wrote “the weeks ahead will be tough.”
“I apologize to my family and to my constituents for my shortcomings and my mistakes,” he wrote.
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Mayor Tishaura Jones's office released a statement about the unfolding story. "Mayor Jones is deeply troubled by the allegations outlined by the U.S. Attorney against Alderman Jeffrey Boyd, Alderman John Collins-Muhammad, and President Lewis Reed. Our office will monitor this case as it progresses through the legal system."
Comptroller Darlene Green's office also issued a statement: "Comptroller Darlene Green is saddened and disappointed by the actions asserted in today's indictment of President Lewis Reed, Alderman Jeffrey Boyd and former Alderman John Collins-Muhammad. Comptroller Green believes St. Louis city residents deserve elected officials who look out for the people's interests."