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Sheila Sweeney to plead guilty in Stenger pay-to-play scheme

The U.S. Attorney's office reports former CEO of the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership, Sheila Sweeney will have a guilty plea hearing, Friday

May 09, 2019 - 3:19 pm
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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - There's more fallout from the pay to play case against former St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger. 

The U.S. Attorney's office reports former CEO of the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership, Sheila Sweeney will have a guilty plea hearing at 3:30 p.m. tomorrow. Additionally, at noon, John Rallo will make his initial appearance in Federal Court. Two companies owned by Rallo are at the center of the honest services bribery and mail fraud which Stenger pleaded guilty to in federal court last week. 

Related: Steve Stenger pleads guilty, no further prosecution per plea deal

Sweeney, a Stenger appointee, was forced out by the partnership's board of directors in January. Her removal followed St. Louis Post-Dispatch investigations that, among other things, raised questions about procurement practices and the awarding of contracts to Stenger's campaign donors.

Sweeney did not immediately respond to a phone message. No listing could be found for Rallo.

In Stenger's case, federal prosecutors said Stenger took actions to ensure that county contracts went to two Rallo-owned companies Cardinal Insurance and Cardinal Creative Consulting. He also allegedly took action to ensure that Rallo's Wellston Holdings LLC obtained options to buy two properties in the town of Wellston that were held by the county's Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority.

Stenger also was accused of ensuring that an unnamed company obtained a state lobbying contract from the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership, and taking actions to conceal the illegal conduct.

A spokeswoman with the U.S. attorney's office in St. Louis said charges and details about the alleged crimes will remain sealed until Friday.

Stenger was charged with accepting campaign contributions from individuals and their companies in exchange for favorable official action, such as for individuals and their companies to enrich themselves and their companies by secretly obtaining favorable action for themselves and for their companies, through corrupt means. 

In exchange for his guilty plea last week, there will be no further federal prosecution, according to the plea deal. 

U.S. District Court Judge Catherine D. Perry has set his sentencing hearing on August 9, 2019.

If convicted, each charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Restitution is mandatory. 

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