Sheila Sweeney Pleads Guilty in Pay-to-Play Scheme; Stenger Doner Indicted

By on May 14, 2019

From St. Louis Post-Dispatch:  The former CEO of the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership admitted on Friday that she both knew about and covered up former St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger’s schemes to award his political donors with county business.

Sheila Sweeney, 61, waived indictment and pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to one count of misprision of a felony.

Sweeney was appointed to the CEO position in August of 2015 on the recommendation of Stenger, Assistant U.S. Attorney Hal Goldsmith said in court. By 2017, she was earning $500,000 yearly in total compensation, and had earned a reputation as Stenger’s “puppet” by 2018.

In court, Sweeney said she’d reviewed the plea documents “thoroughly,” and admitted that everything being alleged is true.

Her guilty plea came six hours after businessman John Rallo pleaded not guilty to three felony counts of honest services fraud.

Lawyers for both declined to answer questions after the hearings. Sweeney lawyer Justin Gelfand did say in a brief statement that she was “profoundly remorseful” for her actions and was taking “full responsibility.”

The language in Sweeney’s guilty plea and Rallo’s indictment mirror that of the guilty plea of Stenger a week ago. Stenger, a Democrat, pleaded guilty to the same three charges facing Rallo.

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