ST. LOUIS — FOX 2 first told you about how Andrew Purcell was paid to represent citizens in one state while living in another. Now, the law has caught up with him.
“Does this rise to a felony?” We asked Purcell in Tuesday’s Fox Files report.
He answered, “I have no comment at this time.”
FOX 2 confronted Purcell after calling him more than a dozen times and visiting a home listed in his name. Purcell refused to comment about whether his conduct could be considered a felony, but the next day we learned the St. Louis County Prosecutor did believe so.
Wesley Bell’s office announced charges of felony stealing by deceit.
“Not only are we elected officials creating the rules and enforcing the rules in some regards, I think it’s also important they know we are playing by the rules as well,” said Bell.
Over the last several weeks, we’ve shown you how Purcell was getting paid as a Bridgeton, Missouri, councilman while living 140 miles away in Illinois.
Bridgeton authorities only recently discovered why Purcell wasn’t showing up to meetings. He’d registered to vote in Carterville, Illinois, so he could run for office there. Purcell’s own words caught up with him as he tried to prove to the Williamson County election board why he should be put on their ballot.
The election board denied him during a hearing on March 25, 2022, in which he said, “It is my contention, under oath, that I am a resident of Williamson County and have been since March 1st of 2021.”
Bridgeton Mayor Terry Briggs heard the audio while watching the FOX 2 report and responded, “I was shocked that he admitted to this.”
Briggs said he’s relieved his former councilman is being held accountable. He said Purcell took $6,000 worth of councilman’s salary during the time Purcell said he lived in Illinois.
“We’re elected and given the public’s trust and we’re expected to follow that trust, and here we have an individual who allegedly has betrayed it and that’s what’s unfortunate for all of us,” Briggs said.
Bell, who himself once served as a councilman for Ferguson said he knows first-hand why it’s important to live where you serve.
“We want our elected officials to be visible and accountable to our constituents,” Bell said. “So, it’s important that they live in those districts and answer to those constituents.”
Purcell has yet to respond in any way to FOX 2 beyond saying no comment. We’ve made more than a dozen attempts and called him again today with no answer. He has his first hearing in June. If convicted, he could face prison time up to seven years.