The US Attorney’s Office announced this morning that it is suing a St. Louis County prison administrator for helping an unnamed businessman fraudulently obtain COVID-19 relief funds in exchange for a cut in the money.
The indictment of Anthony Weaver, a change management coordinator at the St. Louis County Jail, charges him with four counts of wire fraud.
Before taking up his role in county jail in January 2020, Weaver was an administrative assistant for a St. Louis County Councilman, listed as “Jane Doe” in the indictment.
The businessman who is said to have helped Weaver is called “John Smith” in the indictment.
In May 2020, the indictment alleges that Weaver and Smith discussed Smith’s business interests and how much COVID-19 relief money each could potentially receive.
“Fifteen thousand dollars per company. That’s a lot of money if you have four different companies in one district. You’re up to $65, $70,000,” Weaver is said to have stated.
Smith replied, “There’s the mechanic, the laundromat, grocery store, gas station, construction company and Shepley. That’s six. Six companies.”
“You’ll get $90,000, sir,” Weaver said. “That’s $90,000. That’s money, sir. … as long as they use different names.’
The types of businesses Smith calls ownership are very similar to Mohammed Almuttan, who is widely believed to be the “John Doe” in the recent charges against the chairman of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen, Lewis Reed and former Councilors John Collins-Muhammad and Jeffrey Boyd.
According to county property records, Almuttan owns property on Shepley Drive in North County.
At that same May meeting, Weaver reportedly told Smith that he would fill applications for COVID-19 relief funds for Smith’s companies. He also told Smith that while he was not currently a counselor’s assistant, he was still able to ensure that applications for COVID-19 assistance were approved.
“Trust me. I get it. They’re going to do what I tell them to do,” Weaver is said to have stated.
The indictment continues with the allegation that Weaver was coaching Smith to lie about his requests for pandemic aid.
“Did you have a business interruption for the laundromat during the Corona?” Weaver asked Smith in May 2020.
“I don’t think so,” Smith replied.
“Well, you couldn’t pay your light bill, your gas bill, heating bill… As far as you know, has it had any impact during Corona since it started in January?” Weaver would have asked.
“No, we were very busy,” Smith said.
“You don’t want to say that,” Weaver said, according to the indictment. He added: “You want them to think you were closed, you had to fire one of your employees.”
During a later meeting with Smith, Weaver is said to have said, “I hope this place isn’t bugged… [former St. Louis County Executive Steve] Stenger was caught.”
The indictment says Weaver helped submit $60,000 in fraudulent applications for COVID relief.
County Councilman Tim Fitch responded to the news of the indictment against Weaver on Twitter, saying: “This is just getting started folks. I would like to provide space for the US Attorney and the FBI in the County Government Building to do their important work. ”
We will continue to update this story as it develops.