A federal grand jury indicted three St. Louis aldermen, including the board’s president and longest-serving member, on charges of accepting bribes in exchange for the aldermen’s support on property tax abatements.
Board of Alderman President Lewis Reed, Ward 22 Alderman Jeffrey Boyd and former Ward 21 Alderman John Collins-Muhammad, who resigned last month, were indicted on federal charges Thursday for accepting a “stream of payments” and campaign donations.
The grand jury returned the indictment on May 25. It was unsealed on Thursday morning as the defendants were expected to make initial appearances in federal court in St. Louis later in the afternoon.
According to court filings, the three aldermen accepted payments from an unnamed source who sought tax abatements on two properties where they planned to construct gas stations, as well as minority business certifications and contracts with the city.
The unnamed individual sought to develop land in Collins-Muhammad’s and Boyd’s wards. This person gave thousands of dollars to the aldermen in return for their support on the tax abatements.
According to the indictment, Collins-Muhammad accepted a vehicle on top of cash for his support
The documents show continued conversations between Collins-Muhammad, Boyd and Reed as the unnamed individual sought the three aldermens’ support in receiving tax abatements on two properties located in northern St. Louis.
Collins faces three felony charges, while Boyd and Reed each face two counts.
The St. Louis Development Corporation in April received subpoenas that sought records for two north city properties, located at 4201 Geraldine Ave and 5337 Von Phul St.
The subpoenas, provided to the Midwest Newsroom through a sunshine request submitted to the development corp, show the Federal Government commanded St. Louis’ development art to provide all records concerning the purchase of two properties.
The properties are owned by Mohammed Almuttan, property records show, an owner of several properties and gas stations in the area. Almuttan could not be immediately reached for comment.
According to the subpoenas, the development corporation was called before a grand jury to provide all records related to the purchase of the two properties
Requests for comment from the St. Louis Development Corporation were not immediately returned.
Ten-year tax abatements were proposed for both properties but failed to materialize. Boyd proposed a 10-year tax abatement at 95% for 4201 Geraldine Avenue and Collins-Muhammed proposed a 10-year tax abatement at 95% for 5337 Von Phul St.
Collins-Muhammed pushed for an abatement on the property at a Neighborhood Development committee meeting in Nov. 2020. The plan, he said, included constructing a mobile Gas Station and three other spaces for commercial retail at the location. He called the project a “great addition to the neighborhood.”
Collins-Muhammad resigned from his position on the board of alderman with little explanation last month. He wrote on Twitter that he had “made mistakes” and takes full responsibility for them.
“The weeks ahead will be tough,” he wrote. “I apologize to my family and to my constituents for my shortcomings and my mistakes.”
The U.S. Office for the Eastern District of Missouri announced Wednesday night it will hold a hearing of “public interest” at 1 p.m. today.
Robert Patrick, a spokesperson for the Eastern District, declined to comment on the hearing’s connection to the subpoenas but said it’s rare for the court to hold such a hearing.
The Midwest Newsroom is an investigative journalism collaboration including St. Louis Public Radio, KCUR, Iowa Public Radio, Nebraska Public Media and NPR.