STL Co. Councilman fighting for seat in court - KMOV.com

STL Co. Councilman fighting for seat in court

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St. Louis County councilman Ernie Trakas (Credit: St. Louis County website) St. Louis County councilman Ernie Trakas (Credit: St. Louis County website)
SOUTH ST. LOUIS COUNTY (KMOV.com) -

A local judge is now deciding whether St. Louis County Councilman Ernie Trakas must be removed from office after two prosecutors say he violated the county charter.

“This is a first for us, this sort of thing doesn't happen very often,” said St. Charles County Prosecutor Tim Lohmar.

Lohmar was tapped as a special prosecutor in the case. He says the law requires that Trakas must be removed from office because of Trakas' day job.

"I am just doing what I think I was tasked to do by the presiding judge, that's where we stand,” Lohmar said.

The county charter says no council member can hold any other office or employment under the United States, the state of Missouri or any political subdivision, such as school districts.

If they do, the law says the county council seat must be vacated.

“The case law in our view is very clear, includes independent contract work by attorneys,” Lohmar said.

On the county's own website, Trakas talks about his full-time-job as an attorney. 

Trakas' clients, the site says, include Missouri public school districts, colleges and universities. 

Last year, News 4 requested public records from various school districts. 

News 4 found Trakas had been retained by the Cape Girardeau, Jefferson City and Sikeston school districts for legal work. 

Since taking office last year, he billed those districts for services and records show he's been paid. 

“He's done nothing wrong and should remain on the county council,” said Jonathan Marks, Trakas’ attorney.

Marks argued in court Thursday there's no conflict of interest.

The key point he wants to make known to his constituents is that he's done nothing wrong.

Some members of the St. Louis County Council propose a change to the charter to exclude contract work.

News 4 wanted to talk with Trakas, but he kept turning his back.

"No comment for you, Ms. Trager,” Trakas said to News 4 Investigative reporter, Lauren Trager.

No one in the case disagrees that Trakas did the work for the school districts, they only argue about the interpretation of the law.

Thursday, the judge asked for written arguments due in 30 days.

He says he'll rule after that.

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