CLAYTON, Mo. (AP) -- An FBI investigation into fraud at the St. Louis County Health Department is long complete, but elected leaders say they still don’t know the findings.
County officials sought federal help to unravel a $3.4 million computer fraud scheme created by a county health manager before he committed suicide last year. But the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Monday that only County Executive Charlie Dooley and a handful of his advisers know the details about Ed Mueth’s embezzlement or the FBI audit, which was completed in January.
Mueth, 39, used an alias and bogus invoices to collect millions during a six-year scheme to sell and lease laptop computers to the county. He killed himself the day before a scheduled meeting with his bosses to discuss billing discrepancies involving the company he secretly created.
A Dooley statement says the FBI asked that the audit details not be disclosed to St. Louis County Council members. But an FBI spokeswoman countered that the St. Louis County Police Department has the authority to release the findings to other officials if it chooses.
A Post-Dispatch request under state public records laws for the audit and related records has been denied. Administrator Garry Earls, the county’s chief operating officer, told the newspaper that Mueth “was extraordinarily effective at stealing from us.” He said the fraud initially escaped notice because Gateway Technical Solutions, the company created by Mueth to exploit his position as a procurement officer for the health department, delivered on an original $60,000 order of 50 to 60 laptops in 2007.
Earls said the audit determined that Mueth used the ill-gotten proceeds to purchase items including an airplane and a $1.5 million, 7,000-square-foot home in Webster Groves.
Council member Pat Dolan said Dooley’s office has “(kept) us out of the loop on everything. We represent the people of the county, and we should know what’s going on. We shouldn’t have to hear it from a media outlet.”
County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch, who would have tried the case if the health department scandal had gone to trial, said he “had no idea (the audit) existed” until recently.
Earls said the county expected to recover most of its losses through insurance and a lien on the proceeds from the sale of Mueth’s property and possessions.
“At this point our goal is to make sure that we can file the necessary claims against Mr. Mueth’s estate and work with our insurance carrier to recover any losses and work on a fraud review,” Dooley said in the statement.