St. Louis City Parks

John Karel
Provided by Tower Grover Pak

After 27 years, John Karel, the director of Tower Grove Park is stepping down.

Karel says during his time as director he always worked to restore, maintain and improve the park. The next person will still have a lot to do to maintain the city's second largest park.

(via Flickr/david_shane)

The U.S. District Court of Eastern Missouri has sentenced a former St. Louis city official to three years in federal prison for embezzlement. 

(via Flickr/bloomsberries)

The former deputy parks commissioner for St. Louis city will spend three years in federal prison for his role in a scheme that defrauded the city of more than $470,000.

Joseph Vacca did not speak at today's sentencing hearing except to answer questions from Judge Carol Jackson, who rejected a request from Vacca's attorney for a lighter sentence.

(via Flickr/steakpinball)

One of two men who admitted to stealing more than $450,000 from the St. Louis city parks department will learn tomorrow how much time he’ll spend in jail.

(via Flickr/ChrisYunker)

The head of the St. Louis city parks department has apologized for an elaborate fraud in which two high-level employees stole nearly $465,000 from the city.

"We know that we are the stewards of an incredible legacy, and stewards of the taxpayers' money," Gary Bess told the parks committee. "We want their trust, and know that we have to earn it. That's why I'm as disappointed as anyone that this has happened. On behalf of everyone in the administration, and the parks department, I'd like to apologize. It's not who we are."

(via Flickr/steakpinball)

Two former St. Louis Parks Division officials have pleaded guilty to embezzling over $400,000 from the Parks Division. 

The U.S. Attorney's Office of the Eastern District  of Missouri says Joseph Vacca, former deputy commissioner of the St. Louis Parks Division,  and Thomas Stritzel, former chief of the St. Louis Park Rangers pleaded guilty to the charges. According to the Attorney's office, it was through a system of false invoices that the two men acquired the money and used it for personal expenses including automobile leases, credit card payments and other items.

Flickr/jdnx

It's known as the Arch tax, but if St. Louis city and St. Louis County voters approve the measure next month, the biggest chunk of money goes to parks in the region.
 
The sales tax would add about 2 cents to a $10 purchase in the city and county. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that it could raise an estimated $780 million over the next 20 years.