Culture of Corruption: Two Democrats in St. Louis plead guilty in bribery scheme

“It’s time to turn the page on the past and move on from the failed status quo,” city’s mayor says after convictions.

Updated: August 27, 2022 - 12:40am

The former president of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen and a former alderman pled guilty on Friday to all charges filed against them and face penalties ranging from 5-to-10-year maximum prison sentences and hundreds of thousands in fines.

Lewis Reed, board president since 2007 and an alderman since 1999, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Stephen Clark to two bribery-related charges. Reed, 59, admitted to accepting bribes from 2020 through March. He also admitted to committing insurance fraud in a separate case.

Former alderman Jeffrey Boyd, 58, pleaded guilty before Judge Clark in a separate hearing to two bribery-related charges and two counts of wire fraud in an unrelated insurance fraud scheme.

Reed and Boyd are scheduled for sentencing on Dec. 6. One of the bribery charges for both Reed and Boyd carries a 10-year maximum and the other a five-year maximum. Each charge could bring a $250,000 fine. Wire fraud charges against Boyd have a maximum penalty of 20 years and a $250,000 fine.

Another former alderman, John Collins-Muhammad, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to all charges against him as he admitted to taking bribes in the form of cash, a car, phone and campaign contributions. Collins-Muhammad, 31, also will be sentenced on Dec. 6 and faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for bribery and wire fraud charges. Another one of his bribery charges carries a 10-year maximum prison sentence and another a five-year sentence.

“The federal corruption charges against Lewis Reed, John Collins-Muhammad and Jeffrey Boyd have further shaken the faith St. Louisans have in their government,” St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones said in a statement after Tuesday’s plea. “It’s time to turn the page on the past and move on from the failed status quo. I am ready to work with the Board of Aldermen in the coming legislative session to help rebuild trust by enacting development incentive reform that improves transparency, promotes community involvement, and eliminates conflicts of interest.”

Reed accepted $6,000 in cash and $3,500 in campaign contributions, according to court documents, to assist a businessman, identified as “John Doe,” in obtaining a Minority Business Enterprise certification and city trucking and hauling contracts. Reed also admitted accepting $9,000 in cash bribes for helping the businessman get a property tax abatement in the ward served by Collins-Muhammad.

Boyd accepted $9,500 in cash bribes from Doe to help the businessman obtain a commercial property in his ward. Boyd influenced the Land Reutilization Authority to accept Doe’s bid of $14,000 when the property was listed as worth $50,000 by the city. Boyd also accepted free repairs by Doe on two of his vehicles.