(Photo Courtesy: City of Flordell Hills, Missouri)

FLORDELL HILLS, Mo. — Two former city clerks of Flordell Hills, Missouri recently admitted to stealing a combined amount of more than half-a-million dollars from the small, struggling community.

68-year-old, Maureen Woodson pleaded guilty in front of U.S. District Judge, Rodney W. Sippel, to one count of mail fraud and one count of wire fraud. Woodson admitted that from February 2016 to April 2022, she and the former assistant city clerk, 75-year-old, Donna Thompson, wrote about 614 checks to themselves without the authority or knowledge of the mayor, the treasurer, or the board of aldermen. According to the plea agreement, the two forged the signature of the mayor and/or the treasurer on the checks.

The plea agreement also says that Woodson and Thompson cashed some checks and deposited others into their personal bank accounts. Woodson and Thompson used the money to gamble both in person and online. The money was also used for personal expenses, the plea agreement says. City checks or wire transfers of city funds were used as well to pay the rent for a home in Florissant, Missouri. The money also went for entertainment, federal taxes, and expenses at restaurants and stores.

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Woodson’s plea agreement says she admitted to fraudulently obtaining $487,673. Thompson also pleaded guilty to the same counts as Woodson, and admitted to stealing almost $160,000. 

Woodson is scheduled to be sentenced in U.S. District Court in St. Louis on May 16th. Thompson is scheduled to be sentenced the next day (May 17th). Each charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both. They will also be ordered to repay the money.

With a population of nearly 800 residents, Flordell Hills consists of roughly six city blocks and has an annual budget of around $400,000. Approximately 54% of those residents live below the poverty line, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.