Federal subpoenas to St. Louis County sought information on 14 grant applicants | Law and order

CLAYTON — Federal investigators sent three subpoenas to St. Louis County for records on 14 businesses that applied for small business grants as part of an investigation into an alleged attempted fraud scheme by Tony Weaver, an ex-jail official indicted last month on federal bribery charges.

Four of the 14 businesses targeted by the subpoenas had won a one-time $ 15,000 grant from the program in late 2020, according to a news release. The other 10 applications were unsuccessful.

County Executive Sam Page’s administration publicly released the subpoenas Monday evening after previously declaring the records confidential, declining a Sunshine Law request by the Post-Dispatch for the documents as well as a push by some County Council members for access to the information.

The council was scheduled to vote Tuesday night on a resolution sponsored by Councilman Tim Fitch, a longtime Page critic, to try to compel release of the records.

County Counselor Beth Orwick, in a news release, said the decision to release the subpoenas came after her office weighed “the legal and policy considerations.”

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“I indicated at last week’s council meeting that I would continue to evaluate the information known and update my response as necessary,” Orwick said. that closure of these records is no longer warranted. ”

Assistant US Attorney Hal Goldsmith, who is leading the prosecution of Weaver as well as the cases against three former members of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen charged recently in a separate bribery case, had told Orwick’s office last week that it was up to the county to determine whether the subpoenas were a closed record under state and local laws.

The city had previously released subpoenas related to the indictment of the three former aldermen.

The indictment of Weaver, unsealed June 7, outlined how the jail “change manager” and former legislative assistant to ex-Councilwoman Rochelle Walton Gray, D-4th District, filed four fraudulent grant applications for a businessman in exchange for agreeing to split the procedures ..

Not one of the four applications was successful, according to the indictment. Page fired Weaver from the jail job he gave him in late 2019 as soon as the indictment was unsealed.

The county received three federal subpoenas, according to Orwick’s office, on Sept. 20, Sept. 28 and Jan. 5, seeking information on 14 businesses that had applied for one-time grants from a small business grant program in 2020.

The small business grant program, which was funded using part of $ 173.5 million in federal COVID-19 emergency aid, offered $ 17.5 million worth in one-time grants of up to $ 15,000 to hundreds of qualifying small businesses in the county. one-grant. The program ultimately dispersed a total $ 19.2 million in grants to 1,663 St. Louis County businesses.

This report will be updated.