St. Louis Police investigate major budget irregularities within the health department

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by KMOV.com Staff

KMOV.com

Posted on September 23, 2013 at 6:19 PM

 (KMOV) – St. Louis County Police are investigating after budget irregularities in the millions were discovered at the St. Louis County Health Department right before an executive commits suicide.

A conflict of interest is at the center of an FBI investigation into contracts for the county’s new crime lab. This issue came up when irregularities were discovered while preparing for 2014 budget. But before the employee could be questioned by authorities, he took his own life.

The police investigation will focus on the portion of the budget handled by Edward Mueth, of two co-assistant director of the health department. Police Chief Tim Fitch said it appears Mueth had set up one or more companies that got contracts to provide computer-related services to the county.

"This supposedly went on over a 5-year period and could literally be millions of dollars he funneled into his own company,” Chief Fitch said.

The county spokesperson told News 4’s Russell Kinsaul the county’s thorough budget process caught the irregularities and there are both internal and external auditors checking the boxes.

When asked how no one caught this as it allegedly took place over several years, Patricia Washington, spokesperson for St. Louis County said “"That's why we're so careful not to speculate what has happened because right now we have more questions than answers.”

Edward Mueth committed suicide on Thursday at his home in Webster Groves, a day before he was to answer questions about budget irregularities. Muech, who worked for the county for nine years has a house valued at nearly $1.3 million.

Police say the investigation will look into how much money was involved and where it went.

Chief Fitch said "if invoices were submitted for goods and service and the service wasn't provided, that's just outright stealing at that point and that's what the investigation will have to prove."

The county says the health department is on solid financial ground and they’ll plug any holes found in the budget process.

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