ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com/AP) – Former County Executive Steve Stenger was sentenced to 46 months in federal prison Friday, and ordered to pay a $250,000 fine.
Stenger previously pleaded guilty in a pay-to-play scheme that involved awarding of county contracts to campaign donors.
Prosecutors previously told the judge that anything less than three to four years would ignore the severity of the crime. Stenger’s lawyers asked for leniency because their client lost his job, attorney license and has paid $130,000 in restitution ahead of sentencing.
“Public service is a public trust,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Hal Goldsmith said in a statement after the sentencing. “Through his illegal pay-to-play scheme aimed at filling his own political coffers, the former county executive shattered that trust.”
Goldsmith, in his own pre-sentencing memo, said Stenger abused the trust of his constituents “in a substantial and harmful way” and deserved no leniency.
As he left the courthouse, Stenger's attorney Scott Rosenblum called the former County executive "hard-working" and said he will use prison to better himself.
"Obviously, Mr. Stenger has lived a very productive life. That’s obvious based on everything said in court. I have no doubt he will take this period of incarceration to better himself, to continue to take programs," Rosenblum said. "As you see, he’s a very, very hardworking man who has been very successful, and I have no doubt he will be successful in his next endeavor."
Stenger stood next to Rosenblum for the statement but did not speak or respond to any questions from reporters.
Current County Executive Sam Page was not at the sentencing. Page previously said "we can’t dwell on the past," so he will be at a Ferguson-related event discussing the future.
The sentence will keep Stenger in prison just shy four years, which is at the top of federal sentencing guidelines for the crime.
Stenger will have to report to prison no later than September 21.
Speaking after the sentencing, St. Louis County Councilman Tim Fitch assured residents Stenger's actions don't represent the County.
"Rest assured, our government does still work right, even though we have seen corruption in this case. When it's exposed and the right things are done, this is how it ends," he said. "There were people that quit good, career jobs because they were being forced out by Mr. Stenger because [they] would not agree to the schemes ... make no mistake there were people's careers effected by this."
Stenger will report at a later date to begin serving his sentence.
Others pleaded guilty as part of the scheme
Three others also pleaded guilty as part of the scheme — Stenger’s chief of staff, Bill Miller; businessman John Rallo, who donated to Stenger’s campaign with the expectation that his companies would get county contracts; and Sheila Sweeney, whom Stenger appointed as head of the county’s economic development agency.
Rallo faces sentencing Oct. 15. Sweeney’s sentencing is Aug. 16, and Miller’s is Sept. 6.
Rallo admitted giving Stenger tens of thousands of dollars in donations with the understanding that his companies would get contracts. Stenger admitting taking actions to ensure that county contracts went to two Rallo-owned companies — Cardinal Insurance and Cardinal Creative Consulting — and ensuring that Rallo’s Wellston Holdings LLC obtained options to buy two properties.
Sweeney, former head of the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership, admitted helping to cover up the scheme. Miller admitted pressuring Sweeney to renew a state lobbying contract with a company and its owner who donated $59,000 to Stenger.