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ST. LOUIS – A former St. Louis County employee thought he had it made. Anthony “Tony” Weaver Sr. was, in his own words, a man “inside St. Louis County” and plotting to retire a millionaire.

Weaver worked as an administrative assistant for former St. Louis County Councilwoman Rochelle Walton Gray, and was then appointed to a position at the St. Louis County Justice Center.

In May 2020, Weaver went to a person who operated several small businesses in the county and offered to fraudulently apply for CARES Act money on their behalf. In exchange, the business owner, identified only as “John Smith,” would give Weaver a share of those proceeds.

SMITH: “When the money comes in…we split it… You tell me how we’re gonna’ split it. OK?”

WEAVER: There’s so much damn money around St. Louis County, it’s crazy.”

SMITH: “We need to get some of that…”

WEAVER: “Uh huh. Everything they’ve got over there we need to get some of… that’s my attitude.”

Transcript of recorded conversation dated May 7, 2020, from the U.S. Department of Justice, Eastern District of Missouri

The CARES Act was used to fund the county’s Small Business Relief Program, with the goal of paying some of the costs businesses incurred amid stay-at-home orders during part of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over the next few weeks, Weaver allegedly filled out four SBR loans on behalf of John Smith’s businesses. Weaver lied on the applications, claiming the businesses had been closed during the pandemic. He also hid the fact that Smith had a 25% ownership stake in all the businesses. The rules of the loans stipulated a business owner could only apply for one grant.

WEAVER: “All we have to do is apply for them because my people are inside, work their magic and do what they need to do.”

WEAVER: “I’m the quiet guy, I just put the people in the right place, pick up the phone and say this what you need to do… Then we get ready to rock ‘n roll.”

WEAVER: “If anything come up, you all need anything from me, you all call me and I work behind the scenes and make it happen, get it done. Because I work inside St. Louis County…, that’s one of the things we’ve been trying so hard in my political organization, you have to have somebody on the inside, you have to have someone on the outside, and you have the business people. Everybody’s coming together doing their thing. And then when Sam Page’s term is over, we’ll all be millionaires and won’t have to worry about anything at all…”

Transcript of recorded conversation dated June 1, 2020, from the U.S. Department of Justice, Eastern District of Missouri

The indictment further alleges the pair agreed to split any money, and that Weaver advised Smith on how to pay him his share. The indictment also shows how Weaver planned to leverage his former job with the county to ensure the grant applications got approved. Referencing Walton Gray’s office, Weaver said, “They’re going to do what I tell them to do.”

Weaver was also concerned that he was being watched or surveilled around this time, according to the indictment.

“They’re trying to get me on something, brother. I’m too powerful, brother…,” he’s quoted as telling Smith. “I hope this place is not bugged … that’s how (former St. Louis County Executive Steve) Stenger got caught.”

Ultimately, Smith’s four applications were not approved. Weaver said he would try again with the next round of funding.

Weaver was indicted in June 2022 on four counts of wire fraud. He pleaded guilty to all four charges on Oct. 21, 2022.

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page fired Weaver after the indictment was handed down.

Prosecutors have recommended a 12 to 18-month prison sentence for Weaver.