St. Louis County employee fired, charged in COVID relief funding scam

(The Center Square) –The appointed change management coordinator at the St. Louis County Justice Services Center was fired on Tuesday, hours before pleading not guilty to charges of defrauding the federal government’s COVID-19 relief fund.

A grand jury charged Tony Weaver with four counts of wire fraud in a 12-page indictment filed in the U.S. District Court of Eastern Missouri. The document provides lengthy narratives between Weaver and “John Smith,” an owner and operator of several small businesses in St. Louis County, including a gas station, convenience mart, supermarket, laundromat and an automobile mechanic shop.

In May 2020, St. Louis County created a $17.5 million grants program to assist small businesses harmed by pandemic restrictions. It was funded by $173 million in CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act funding sent to the county by the federal government. The CARES Act was a $2.2 trillion economic stimulus bill passed by Congress and signed into law by former President Donald Trump.

From May to December 2020, Weaver is alleged to have devised and knowingly participated in a scheme to defraud and obtain money from St. Louis County’s Small Business Relief Program under materially false and fraudulent pretenses, representations and promises. The indictment states Weaver told Smith each of his six businesses could receive $15,000 and they would split the money.

“There’s so much (expletive) money around St. Louis County, it’s crazy,” the indictment alleges Weaver said. The narrative also states Weaver instructed Smith to falsely state he reduced employee hours and closed during the stay-at-home order.

On May 21, 2020, the indictment stated the two discussed how payments needed to be made in cash and not in campaign contributions due to tracking processes.

“I hope this place is not bugged … that’s how (former St. Louis County Executive Steve) Stenger got caught,” Weaver told Smith according to the indictment, referring to the former executive who was served 46 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to corruption charges.

Weaver previously was an administrative assistant to “Jane Doe,” a St. Louis County Councilwoman, before St. Louis County Executive Sam Page appointed him to the position at the Justice Center. Weaver also served as a committeeman of the Spanish Lake Township of St. Louis County and served on the board of Unity PAC, a north St. Louis County political organization.

About The Author

Get News, the way it was meant to be:

Fair. Factual. Trustworthy.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.