Former St. Louis aldermen Lewis Reed, Jeffrey Boyd admit to their role in bribery scheme
The two remaining St. Louis aldermen charged with accepting bribes from a developer have owned up to their roles in the scheme.
Former 22nd Ward Alderman Jeffrey Boyd and Lewis Reed, the former president of the Board of Aldermen, appeared in front of U.S. District Judge Stephen Clark in separate hearings Friday morning and pleaded guilty to multiple felonies each. The two men will be sentenced on Dec. 6; federal guidelines call for them to serve between 2 ½ and four years in prison. They will also have to pay restitution, and under state law will lose any pension they earned after Aug. 28, 2014.
Boyd on Friday also pleaded guilty in a second federal case involving insurance fraud at his used car lot.
Boyd, 58, was the first to enter his pleas on Friday. He wore a blue suit with a white shirt and red tie. His wife Patrice accompanied him, sitting in the back row of the courtroom. Reflecting his military background, Boyd stood upright with his shoulders back and answered Clark’s questions clearly and politely.
Boyd was diagnosed with PTSD in December 2020, and told Clark that he had been on prescribed medications for the condition since January. While he said the medications can make him forgetful, he was in the right mind to be able to enter a plea. He also admitted that he had talked to a therapist about addiction issues.
Reed, 59, along with his attorney Scott Rosenblum, stepped into court around 11 am, as the proceedings in Boyd’s case were ongoing, then stepped back into the hallway. He re-entered around 11:15, standing in the back of the room.
Reed, wearing a gray suit with a patterned tie, was much more talkative than Boyd, occasionally giving extended answers, and at one point talking over Clark before the judge had finished his question. In response to questions from the judge, Reed said that he was supposed to take Adderall, a stimulant that can be used to treat ADHD, but that he felt had not needed to. He said despite not taking the medication, he was of sound mind to proceed.
A group of older adults taking a tour of the courthouse watched the proceedings in Boyd’s hearing.
Neither man spoke as they left the courthouse. Boyd and his wife drove off in an SUV, while Reed got into an Aston Martin.
The investigation into the bribery scheme stretched over 2 ½ years, and included recordings of hundreds of meetings and telephone calls, court-ordered search warrants and the review of thousands of text messages and emails. The indictment painted a picture in which Reed, Boyd and their co-defendant, John Collins-Muhammad, required the developer, known as John Doe, to essentially pay them before taking any of the legislative steps necessary to secure incentives.
Boyd admitted to accepting $8,500 in cash payments, plus car repairs worth about $2,300, in order to help John Doe purchase a vacant city-owned property in Boyd’s ward for considerably less than its listed value. He also admitted that he put pressure on city officials to accept John Doe’s low bid.
Reed admitted that he accepted cash and contributions worth about $18,000 to help Doe’s trucking company get certified as a minority-owned business with the city, making it easier for Doe to get contracts. He also admitted that he helped get the Board of Aldermen to approve tax breaks for a planned gas station in Collins-Muhammad’s ward.
As part of the deal, the federal government has agreed not to prosecute Reed or Boyd for any further conduct related to the bribery scheme.
Collins-Muhammad pleaded guilty on Tuesday and will also be sentenced Dec. 6.
The departure of Reed and Boyd from city government earlier this year amounted to a political earthquake. Reed was first elected as the alderman from the 6th Ward in 1999, and found himself elevated to board president in 2007 when he defeated incumbent Jim Shrewsbury.
Reed was the first Black person elected to that position, which gave him substantial power over the city’s financial matters. He also had extensive say over the operation of the board, including appointing members of committees.
Boyd joined the board in 2003, winning his first election by nine votes. At the time of his resignation in June, he was the most senior alderman and chair of the Housing, Urban Development and Zoning committee, which handled development projects and distributed money from the federal block grants.
Reed and Boyd often clashed with more progressive members of the Board of Aldermen, especially on matters of public safety and development incentives. Reed was forced to apologize in 2016 after he failed to challenge the late radio host Bob Romanik, after Romanik made vulgar comments about Alderwoman Megan Green.
Both men made multiple unsuccessful bids for higher office. Boyd ran for treasurer twice, in 2012 and 2020; license collector in 2014; and mayor in 2017. Reed ran three times for mayor, including once against Boyd.
Insurance fraud caseIn his insurance fraud case, Boyd admitted that he lied about the ownership of several vehicles damaged in an accident at a used car lot in Jennings so the company that provided insurance to his used car business, Best Place Auto Sales in the Hamilton Heights neighborhood, would cover the cost of that damage. He also admitted to inflating the insurance claim in order to make additional money. The agency, based in North Carolina, never paid out on the claim.
Business records show that the Jennings business, Moe Express Sales and Service, is registered in the name of a relative of John Doe, the developer who purchased the city-owned property in Boyd’s ward at a discount.
Follow Rachel on Twitter: @rlippmann