ST. LOUIS – Mayor Tishaura Jones said Wednesday that the corruption outlined in the federal indictments against former Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed and former aldermen Jeffrey Boyd and John Collins-Muhammad is “completely unacceptable.”
She said City residents would be better served by people who aren’t facing federal indictments, and she believes there are more federal indictments to come. Jones said she thinks “this is the tip of the iceberg.”
“All three did the right thing by resigning. Now our city can take the first tentative steps to move forward,” the mayor said.
Reed resigned on Tuesday, Boyd resigned on Friday, June 3, and Collins-Muhammad resigned on May 12.
A federal grand jury charged Reed with two counts of bribery and Collins-Muhammad with two counts of bribery and one count of honest services bribery/wire fraud. Boyd was also charged with two counts of bribery and faces a separate indictment for two counts of wire fraud, alleging he sought $22,000 from his insurance company for damages to vehicles he falsely claimed to own.
Collins-Muhammad is accused of accepting bribes and a free car to help a small business owner get approval to build a gas station/convenience store in his ward and receive tax breaks worth several hundred thousand dollars, in direct violation of city and state ordinances.
“What we can’t measure are the businesses, the grocery stores, the homes, that never came to St. Louis, particularly north St. Louis because of issues like these,” Jones said.
The indictment is the culmination of a two-year investigation by the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in St. Louis and included undercover recordings of meetings and telephone calls, as well as text messages and emails.
Jones said Reed fought her from the first day she stepped into the office of mayor. She said she’s felt pushback from Boyd since she became treasurer in 2012.
“According to the indictment, John Collins-Muhammad said that I’m on his s**t list for trying to stop him from giving out illicit tax abatements, and that language says everything that needs to be said,” Jones said.
She continued to say that everyone loses when politicians act in accordance with what was outlined in the indictments.
“No matter the political intrigue of the day, my office remains laser-focused on delivering and improving the services that touch people’s lives on a daily basis: fixing our roads, picking up the trash and recycling, protecting communities from COVID-19, making our neighborhoods safer, and creating opportunities for our young people and their families,” Jones said.
The mayor said her office will remain focused on doing what’s best for the residents and the city.
“This is a disheartening but necessary moment of reflection for St. Louis,” Jones said. “This is a stain on our city, but it will not prevent us from becoming fairer, safer, and stronger.”
Joe Vollmer will take over as interim aldermanic president until an election in November. Jones asked the public to give him a chance “as he takes on a role that he did not seek.”
“You have to put integrity back into the peoples’ minds about what they think about city government, and the gentle stepping aside allows us to do that,” said Vollmer.
There will be a special election in August to fill the vacancies of Boyd and Collins-Muhammad. Meanwhile, for the March primary next year, residents will elect 14 aldermen instead of 28 due to redistricting.
At the beginning of Wednesday’s news conference, Jones also addressed her recent COVID diagnosis. She tested positive the night of Wednesday, June 1. At the news conference, said she is now testing negative and has quarantined for the required period of time.