ST. LOUIS, Mo. — A federal indictment alleges that a St. Louis County employee organized a kickback program using pandemic aid.
Prosecutors for the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Missouri said Anthony “Tony” Weaver Sr. went to an individual who ran several small businesses in the district and offered to fraudulently seek CARES Act funds on her behalf . In return, the business owner would give Weaver a portion of the proceeds.
The CARES Act was used to fund the county’s Small Business Relief program with the goal of covering some of the costs businesses have incurred from stay-at-home orders during part of the COVID pandemic.
Weaver was indicted on May 25 on four counts of wire fraud. He handed himself over to federal custody.
According to the recently unsealed indictment, Weaver worked as an administrative assistant to a former St. Louis County councilwoman identified only as “Jane Doe.” On May 6, 2020, Weaver went to the businessman, identified only as “John Smith,” to present the plan.
Over the next few weeks, Weaver allegedly filled out four SBR loans on behalf of John Smith’s company. Weaver lied about the filings, claiming the stores were closed during the pandemic. He also hid the fact that Smith had a 25 percent stake in all of the companies. The loan rules stipulated that an entrepreneur could only apply for a grant.
The indictment further alleges that the couple agreed to split money and that Weaver advised Smith on how to pay him his share.
Weaver was concerned he was being watched or monitored around this time, the indictment says.
“You’re trying to get me onto something, brother. I’m too powerful, brother…” he reportedly quoted Smith as saying. “I hope this place isn’t bugged…that’s how (former St. Louis County executive Steve) Stenger got caught.”
Ultimately, Smith’s four applications were not approved. Weaver said he will try again with the next round of funding.
Prosecutors say Weaver claimed to have helped 10 other companies apply for grants; only two agreed to give him kickbacks and only one bursary was approved. Weaver claimed to have received $300 for his help.
Weaver, who is currently employed as the change management coordinator at the St. Louis County Jail, faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 for each count of wire fraud.
https://fox2now.com/news/missouri/stl-county-employee-indicted-for-pandemic-relief-kickback-scheme/ STL County employees charged in pandemic relief kickback program