Former St. Louis County top official indicted for alleged COVID-19 funding scam
They’re trying to get me on something, brother. I’m too powerful, brother…,” the indictment quotes Weaver telling Smith.
ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. (KMOV) - A former top official at the St. Louis County jail, appointed by County Executive Sam Page, has been indicted.
Anthony “Tony” Weaver Sr. turned himself in to federal authorities Tuesday. On May 6, 2020, the indictment alleged that he approached a man who owned several small businesses in St. Louis County with a plan to fraudulently apply for grants from the Small Business Relief Program (SBR) in exchange for a share of the proceeds.
Weaver was indicted on May 25, 2022 on four felony counts of wire fraud.
According to federal documents, Weaver told the businessman, who is identified as John Smith, that his former boss on the council requested to know the names of Smith’s businesses before a final decision was made. His boss is identified as Jane Doe in the documents.
In a conversation with Smith, Weaver reportedly said that Doe’s office is “going to do what I tell them to do.”
Applications for four SBR loans that falsely claimed Smith’s businesses were closed during the pandemic were filled out by Weaver, the indictment said. It also concealed the fact that Smith had at least 25% ownership in all the businesses which contradicted the guideline that one owner could apply for one grant. The indictment also touched on several of the duo’s conversations about splitting the money while discussing ways to avoid getting caught. Weaver reportedly warned Smith to avoid using a check or political donations to pay kickbacks and for Smith to avoid using his own cell phone when submitting the application “because county employees might find out.”
“They’re trying to get me on something, brother. I’m too powerful, brother…,” the indictment quotes Weaver telling Smith.
Weaver also said, “I hope this place is not bugged…that’s how (former St. Louis County Executive Steve) Stenger got caught,” the indictment says.
Although Smith’s application wasn’t approved, Weaver allegedly ensured Smith that he could try again with the next round of funding. According to the indictment, Weaver said he helped 10 other companies apply for grants, but only two agreed to kick back any money and only one grant was approved. Weaver told Smith that he received $300 for his help in that case.
His attorney told News 4′s Lauren Trager: “There is a reason why they say a person can indict a ham sandwich. He is innocent until proven guilty and to get an indictment doesn’t take very much.”
Weaver’s title, according to his LinkedIn page, is Change Management Coordinator for St. Louis County Government. Formerly the legislative assistant for former County Councilwoman Rochelle Walton Gray, his appointment to the patronage job at the jail drew criticism from some Republican councilmembers. He was hired in December of 2019 and was making more than $82,000 a year. He was placed in the position in the midst of controversy for the St. Louis County Justice Center, as an Advisory Board was investigating several deaths and other complaints. Weaver also served as the longtime committeeman of the Spanish Lake Township and on the board of Unity PAC, a north St. Louis County political organization.
Weaver also previously worked for the city of Jennings. A spokesperson for the Page administration sent News 4 the following statement:
He appeared before a judge at 1:00 p.m. Tuesday. The wire fraud charge carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
This is a developing story and will be updated with additional information throughout the day.
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