ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) – Pine Lawn Mayor Sylvester Caldwell, 55, has been sentenced to 33 months in federal prison. He was also ordered to pay $5500 in restitution.
Prosecutors say Caldwell took money from the owner of a towing company in exchange for sending city business to that company. He’s also charged with extorting money from the owner of a convenience store. Caldwell plead not guilty.
Court documents state that the owner of the towing service was working with the FBI. This was part of an ongoing public corruption investigation of Sylvester Caldwell. The mayor met with the tow company owner at least five times for cash payments. The purpose was to remain the primary towing service for Pine Lawn.
The mayor used coded words during the meetings. A statement from the US Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Missouri states:
For example, he commanded the tow company owner to place “green Mountain Dew in a cup,” which was code for directing that the cash be placed in a disposable cup.
From February 2013 to September 2014 the mayor also extorted numerous payments from a convenience store known as Pine Lawn Market. Investigators say the mayor disguised the payments as donations. The owner of the store worried that the mayor would make trouble for the store.
The judge says Caldwell abused his position as mayor. He called his corrupt actions arrogant and says he violated public trust.
The prison time is the longest sentence within judge's guidelines.