Former City Clerk Sentenced to 18 Months in Prison for Stealing $487,000 from Struggling North St. Louis County Municipality
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Missouri
ST. LOUIS – The former city clerk of Flordell Hills, Missouri was sentenced Tuesday to 18 months in federal prison and ordered to repay the $487,673 she stole from the small, struggling city. Flordell Hills is roughly six blocks square, has an annual budget of about $400,000 and a population of about 800. Approximately 53.9% of those residents live below the poverty line, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
U.S. District Judge Rodney W. Sippel also ordered Maureen Woodson, 68, remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals at the end of the sentencing hearing.
From about February 2016 to April 2022, Woodson and the former assistant city clerk, Donna Thompson, wrote about 614 city checks to themselves. Woodson then forged the signature of the mayor and/or treasurer to cash the checks or deposit them into their personal bank accounts. The checks were written and cashed without the knowledge of the mayor, the treasurer or the board of aldermen. Woodson and Thompson used the cash to gamble both in person and online and for personal expenses. Further, on about 381 occasions, Woodson and Thompson used Flordell Hills funds to directly pay for their own personal expenses, by either writing checks or wiring city funds directly to third party vendors for entertainment, restaurants, home rental payments, and personal taxes owed to the Internal Revenue Service.
Woodson stole $487,673 and Thompson took $159,903.
“Flordell Hills residents and officials trusted these two defendants completely and relied upon them to handle the city’s financial operations,” said U.S. Attorney Sayler A. Fleming. “The $650,000 that they stole could have been used for vital city services, like fixing roads and sewers, paying contractors and helping struggling residents. Instead, these defendants used it for personal expenses and gambled the rest away. This case, and the prison sentence for Ms. Woodson, should serve as a warning to those who would betray the public’s trust.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Hal Goldsmith told Judge Sippel that while Woodson and Thompson were stealing from the city, the mayor and other officials were at times not taking salaries. Mayor Joe Noeth and others were mowing overgrown areas of the city and clearing streets and roads when they were blocked by downed trees or limbs. “She had to be aware that her criminal conduct was having adverse effects on residents,” Goldsmith said.
"It is outrageous that Maureen Woodson stole more than the entire annual budget for the City of Flordell Hills," said Special Agent in Charge Jay Greenberg of the FBI St. Louis Division. "Stealing from the community she swore to serve is public corruption."
Woodson and Thompson were terminated in May of 2022, after the embezzlement was discovered. Woodson was hired in 2010 and Thompson in 2012.
Woodson and Thompson each pleaded guilty in February to one count of mail fraud and one count of wire fraud. Thompson, 76, is scheduled to be sentenced Wednesday.
The FBI investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Hal Goldsmith prosecuted the case.
Updated May 16, 2023