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Stenger Scandal Prompts St. Louis County Council To Block Pensions For Those Convicted Of Corruption

Former St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger walks out of federal court Friday after pleading guilty to federal charges.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio
Former County Executive Steve Stenger will not receive a pension under a new bill approved by the St. Louis County Council.

St. Louis County elected officials and employees who are found guilty of corruption will not be able to collect their pensions. 

The County Council voted unanimously Tuesday to revoke the pension benefits of those convicted of public corruption such as bribery. 

“The offenses had to occur while they were in office or in their county employment,” said Councilman Tim Fitch, R-St. Louis County, the sponsor of the bill. “Once you’re convicted, that’s when the ordinance would kick in.”

Fitch said the bill would apply to former County Executive Steve Stenger. The proposal was introduced several weeks after Stenger resigned and pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges.

“I believe this is an individual who doesn’t deserve to have his pension because of the felonies that he committed,” Fitch said. “I think this will send a message to anyone in the future that may consider committing the number of felonies that he did to not do that.” 

Stenger is scheduled to be sentenced Friday.

The County Council meeting was the first since federal prosecutors released a pre-sentencing memo that said Stenger should receive the maximum sentence of nearly four years for participating in pay-to-play schemes.

The memo said Stenger abused voters' "trust in a substantial and harmful way.” It contained explosive and profanity-laced comments Stenger made to staff that included how he was campaigning for re-election and not doing any work for the county. 

Sam Page, who took over as county executive following Stenger’s resignation, said Tuesday that although voters recently passed campaign contribution limits, there is still more to be done in light of Stenger’s conviction.

In the coming weeks we will be talking about ethics reform, and I will be bringing those proposals forward to the County Council,” Page said.

Page said he will not attend Stenger’s sentencing but will instead be in Ferguson with U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay, D-University City, and other community leaders and residents on the fifth anniversary of Michael Brown’s death.

Follow Chad on Twitter @iamcdavis

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Chad is a general assignment reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.