1 of 2 | St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones makes her remarks following the resignation of St. Louis Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed during a press conference in St. Louis on Wednesday. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo
June 8 (UPI) -- St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones said Wednesday that the city can take "its first tentative steps to move forward" now that all three aldermen charged with bribery and corruption by federal indictment earlier this week have resigned.
"It's been an incredibly difficult few weeks for the city and our region," she said.
"While I whole heartedly believe that people are innocent until proven guilty I also recognize -- and I think our city does, too -- that the disturbing federal corruption charges brought against Lewis Reed, Jeffrey Boyd and John Collins-Muhammad prevented them from doing the job that they were elected to do: to faithfully serve the residents of St. Louis."
Reed, now the former president of the Board of Aldermen, was the last of the three men to resign, stepping down on Tuesday when federal prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Missouri formally announced charges accusing the trio of misusing their offices in exchange for bribes.
Collins-Muhammad resigned May 12 amid the criminal investigation and Boyd resigned Friday. All three were indicted May 25.
"If proven to be true, the self-dealing and corruption outlined in these indictments are completely unacceptable, illustrating how little these three individuals thought of their colleagues, of the people they were elected to serve and of our entire city," Jones said.
Federal prosecutors said one of three schemes announced in the indictments accuses Collins-Muhammad and Reed of working to pass bills that provided a business man, identified in court documents as John Doe, a tax abatement worth hundreds of thousands of dollars for a new gas station and connivence store.
In exchange for their help, Reed accepted $9,000 in cash while Collins-Muhammad received $7,000 in cash, $4,000 in campaign contributions, a new iPhone 11 and a 2016 Volkswagen sedan.
The charging document also accuses Reed of accepting more than $9,000 in cash bribes and campaign contributions from Doe for help to obtain a minority business enterprise certification for his trucking company, which was unsuccessful, and for helping him win city contacts.
Collins-Muhammad is further accused of accepting bribes from Doe for introducing him to a public official who could steer business his way.
The document also accuses Boyd and Collins-Muhammad of accepting cash bribes and services from Doe in exchange for help with purchasing a property from the city at way under market value.
A second indictment against Boyd charges him with two counts of wire fraud on accusations of trying to scam a car insurance company of $22,000 in a scheme also involving Doe.
"The pay-to-play allegations in the indictment speak for themselves," Jones said. "What we can't measure are the business, the grocery stores, the homes that never came to St. Louis, particularly North St. Louis because of issues like these."
Jones said it was the right move for them to resign.
"I want St. Louisans to know that no matter the political intrigue of the day, my office remains laser-focused on delivering and improving the services that touch people's lives on a daily basis," she said.