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Court upholds sentence for towing scandal figure

(via Flickr/steakpinball)

A federal appeals court has upheld the 27-month prison sentence handed down to a former St. Louis police detective who was a participant a wide-ranging scandal involving towed cars.

Kevin Shade, a former auto theft detective with the police force, pleaded guilty in August 2009 to falsifying title inspections for 10 cars that had been towed by Metropolitan Towing. In exchange, Shade received cash kickbacks from Gregory Shepard, who managed S&H Parking, which was owned by William and Kenneth Bialczak, who also owned Metropolitan Towing.

As part of his plea deal, Shade was required to cooperate with the government. But in January 2010, Shade stopped cooperating with police and recanted his guilty plea. Prosecutors said at Shade's sentencing last December that Shade's lack of cooperation had an "extreme adverse impact" on their ability to continue investigating the scandal. A federal judge gave Shade 27 months in prison, citing his failure to cooperate.

Shade challenged his sentence, saying the government had failed to prove that he had recanted his original admission. The court disagreed and upheld the original 27-month term, saying FBI reports clearly demonstrated how Shade's testimony and interviews changed between 2008 and 2010. The court also noted that Shade did not dispute a required pre-sentencing report that outlined Shade's recantation.

Shade is serving his sentence at the Montgomery Federal Prison Camp in Montgomery, Ala. Shepard, the towing lot manager, has completed his jail term but remains under federal supervision. The situation is the same for Kenneth Bialczak. His brother William has yet to serve his sentence.

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.

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