FOX Files: St. Louis Treasurer’s Appears Out of Control

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI - FOX2now.com) — woman who admits to a drug conspiracy is a high ranking employee for the St. Louis City Treasurer. Other workers are getting paid for potentially fictitious jobs. That's just small taste of many troubling issues investigated by Chris Hayes, who`s trying to get answers from the man who`s held the position for more than 20 years.

We visited the St. Louis City Treasurer`s office at least five times. Employees of Larry Williams never report seeing him.

On a day his secretary said, "He`s not here," the secretary admitted she didn't know what he was doing. She said that even though we`d asked for him day after day after day.

She said, "I don`t have his meeting on his schedule."
(Hayes) "Did he call and say where he was?"
(Secretary) "No he hasn`t yet."

The Feds recently indicted his old friend Fred Robinson for being an absentee employee. The indictment accuses Robinson of drawing four years of a $35,360 salary, while turning in 'false...time sheets' with the Treasurer's Parking Division.

Robinson is just one of several absentee employees according to a deposition obtained by Fox 2. A former Administrative Services Director admitted he knew of three employees 'not really working.' Under oath, he said he warned higher ups but added, 'I don't think there was any follow-up.'

The Treasurer`s office admits it hasn`t followed up with Robinson. Even under indictment, he`s still employed, showing up when he wants to. Instead of answering our questions, he appeared to pretend to be on the phone. While I attempted to ask him a question Robinson said, "I have a reporter here named Chris somebody from Channel 2. They are harassing me. I would like to file a harassment suit against them, thank you."
(Hayes) "The former HR director said he wasn`t sure what you do."
(Robinson shut his car door and drove off as I asked) "Should an employee with the Treasury, be parked in a no parking zone?"

The Treasurer`s parking division makes money not only from garages and meters, but from tickets. The big money may be when those tickets quickly double and triple. Attorney Elkin Kistner explained, "The Treasurers office has been collecting a doubling and trebling of that face $10 violation since the early 2000s and curiously we don`t think there`s any ordinance support for that but they`ve been collecting it, and most people pay that. I don`t know what percentage of the Parking Division revenues the doubling & trebling penalties are, but they`re quite substantial. They are many multiple millions dollars a year."

You`d think that would be great for the City, but City Hall never sees the money, unless the Treasurer decides to share portions.

Kistner added, "The Treasurer's Office claims it has discretion, unfettered discretion, over whether it`s going to share money with the City's General revenue."

As well as discretion it used to terminate parking division employees and replace them with a private Milwaukee company. That`s the basis of Kistner's lawsuit. He said, "There was no compliance with the City ordinance specifying what had to be done to ensure that a true competitive bidding process was followed."

Campaign records give us a clue about why the Treasurer outsourced. The Milwaukee company paid $3,625 to the `Williams for Treasurer` campaign, just one year before it got the contract. About 70 city workers were fired in the deal, but apparently not the questionable ones.

One woman's job seems too incredible to be real. Shirley Rukcic is Administrative Services Director and she's been assigned to answer our questions about where the money`s going. She's a disbarred attorney, who got her job at the Treasury after admitting to playing a part in a drug trafficking conspiracy. Federal Court documents reveal Rukcic's role in a 'methamphetamine' pipeline between St. Louis and L.A. Now Rukcic works for the Office that watches over the City`s money.

I asked Rukcic, "How does a convicted felon get a job at the Treasurer`s Office?"
(Rukcic)"I think that`s just an inappropriate question. I feel like you all are harassing and stalking me. I don`t appreciate you going by my parents house when my Dad has a very serious illness."

We'd earlier tried contacting Rukcic at her South St. Louis County home, near Mehlville. It's a living arrangement, forbidden by St. Louis City rules.

So what can be done about this office that appears out of control? Apparently nothing. Talk to just about anybody here at City Hall and they say Treasurer Larry Williams is untouchable. Though Williams has an office at City Hall, it`s as if he`s on his own island, because he`s independently elected and considered a County, patronage office. Mayor Francis Slay's Office added the following statement. The statement said, "The Treasurer is elected by the people of the City of St. Louis. The Treasurer does not report to the Mayor, nor does the Mayor have any authority over the Treasurer's Office."

We`ll continue seeking answers from Larry Williams and visiting his office to see if we ever find him at work.

E-mail Chris.Hayes@tvstl.com

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