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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Missouri

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, May 31, 2019

Former St. Louis County Chief of Staff Pleads Guilty to Pay to Play Scheme

St. Louis, MO – William Miller, 54, of Richmond Heights, pleaded guilty today to one count of aiding and abetting honest services wire fraud/bribery in front of U.S. District Court Judge Rodney W. Sippel. 

According to court documents, Miller was hired as Chief of Staff by then County Executive Stenger during December, 2017, and was responsible for primarily assisting Stenger in managing the day to day operations of St. Louis County Government, and supervising Stenger’s Executive Staff.  Stenger also appointed Miller to the Board of the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership during 2018.  Stenger pled guilty on May 3, 2019 to 3 counts of honest services mail fraud/bribery relative to his scheme to defraud and deprive the citizens of St. Louis County of their right to his honest and faithful services, and the honest and faithful services of the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership’s Chief Executive Officer, through bribery and the concealment of material information.  The purpose of the scheme was for Stenger to secretly use his official position to enrich himself through soliciting and accepting campaign contributions from individuals and their companies in exchange for favorable official action, and 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. 

The charge against Miller relates to his aiding and abetting Stenger’s criminal scheme specifically as it relates to Stenger, in exchange for campaign donations and fundraising activities, having taken official action to ensure that “Company One” and its principal owner obtained a 2019 state lobbying contract valued at approximately $200,000 from the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership.  In aiding and abetting Stenger’s criminal scheme, Miller communicated with, and personally met with Sheila Sweeney, then the CEO of the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership, in order to persuade and ensure that Sweeney and the Partnership Board, of which Miller was a member, awarded the lobbying contract to Company One, over a second lobbying firm which had also bid on the lobbying contract.  In taking such official action in aid of Stenger’s criminal scheme, Miller deprived the citizens of St. Louis County of their right to his honest services as the County’s Chief of Staff and as a member of the Board of the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership.

Today’s guilty plea is the result of an investigation that began during March 2018 and remains active and ongoing. 

If convicted, the charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.  Restitution is also mandatory.  In determining the actual sentences, a judge is required to consider the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide recommended sentencing ranges.

Steve Stenger, former St. Louis County Executive, pled guilty to related charges on May 3, 2019, and is scheduled to be sentenced on August 9, 2019.

Sheila Sweeney, former Chief Executive Officer of the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership, pled guilty to related charges on May 10, 2019 and sentencing scheduled for August 16, 2019.

John Rallo, principal owner of Cardinal Insurance, Cardinal Creative Consulting, and Wellston Holdings LLC, was indicted by a federal grand jury on related charges on May 9, 2019, and that case is pending before the court.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Postal Inspection Service are investigating this case with the assistance of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Hal Goldsmith is handling the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Topic(s): 
Public Corruption
Updated May 31, 2019