BRIDGETON, Mo. — A politician who FOX 2 first exposed for living in one state and representing citizens in another made yet another bewildering move.
Andrew Purcell got a job as a prosecutor while under investigation for felony stealing.
FOX 2’s Chris Hayes confronted Purcell during a FOX Files investigation on May 3 and asked, “Are you going to pay back the money?”
Purcell said he had no comment.
We confronted him that day after attempting to catch up to Purcell in person and by phone for weeks. Purcell had collected a year’s worth of salary as a Bridgeton, Missouri, councilman while living 140 miles away in Carterville, Illinois.
St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell’s office charged Purcell with felony stealing, right after our confrontation with the suspect.
“If you are going to serve in this position, then there’s going to be a standard that we’re going to expect,” Bell said. “And at the very least, it’s to live in the community that you serve and follow the rules that were set up when you raised your right hand and took that oath.”
Purcell took about $6,000 in Bridgeton councilman salary during the time he was quietly living in Illinois.
Bridgeton Mayor Terry Briggs said in April that Purcell duped citizens. Briggs said that Purcell “continued to perpetrate this fraud on the residents of Bridgeton.”
Now, it’s a prosecutor’s office in Illinois that claims it was duped. Purcell got a job as an assistant prosecutor in Union County, Illinois, the same week FOX 2 aired the confrontation with Purcell.
Purcell is licensed as an attorney in Missouri and Illinois.
Union County’s chief prosecutor said Purcell’s recent history, which FOX 2 started exposing on April 20, did not come up in a background check.
The prosecutor added that Purcell did not handle any cases because he resigned two days after getting the job, the same day he was charged with a felony by the St. Louis County Prosecutor.
“It is troubling, to say the least,” said Bell.
FOX 2 obtained Purcell’s resume through a records request and noticed Purcell claimed experience with the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office as an “extern,” meaning he shadowed employees in the office in 2012. Bell said that’s true, but that it won’t impact how his office handles this.
“We have a process,” Bell said. “So, if somebody believes there’s a conflict, whether it be the defendant, then the defendant can bring that to the court — and the court will make a decision. But ten years ago with a previous administration? I don’t see any conflict of interest here.”
Purcell is also under investigation by the Missouri bar, confirmed by two of Purcell’s former clients who have shared their correspondence with bar investigators.
Purcell has a June 2 court date to answer to his St. Louis County felony stealing charge.