2 former Flordell Hills employees indicted in theft of more than $650,000
Two women who held significant power over the affairs of a tiny north St. Louis County town are accused of stealing $663,000 from the city over the past six years.
Maureen Woodson and Donna Thompson worked for the City of Flordell Hills, as the clerk and assistant clerk, until May of this year. In those roles, they were in charge of most of the city’s financial processes, including paying bills and reconciling monthly bank statements. As clerk, Woodson was authorized to sign city checks.
A federal indictment made public Wednesday accuses the women of diverting public funds for their personal use, including rent, back taxes and gambling, both online and at area casinos.
“It’s just unfortunate that these government officials, who are trusted by the city administration and owe their duty and obligation to the residents, carried out this alleged scheme,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Hal Goldsmith, who is prosecuting the case.
The bank that holds Flordell Hills’ accounts contacted Mayor Joseph Noeth in April over concerns it had with some handwritten checks made out to Woodson, the city clerk. Goldsmith said Noeth and the city treasurer did their own investigation, then contacted federal law enforcement. Woodson and Thompson were fired in May.
The city did require two people to sign checks, Goldsmith said. The women got around that requirement by forging the signatures of the mayor and treasurer.
The annual budget of the city, which has a population of about 725, is usually around $450,000, Goldsmith said, and the theft sometimes meant Flordell Hills could not pay its bills. An attorney for the city, Jeff Duke, said the money stolen included federal COVID relief funds.
Duke said the city was “heartbroken” to learn of the case involving two trusted employees. He said that officials are looking at all legal means to recover the stolen funds, and that city spending now gets more scrutiny from the treasurer.
Woodson and Thompson each face two counts of mail fraud and two counts of wire fraud. They could face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted, though they would likely receive much less. Prosecutors are also seeking to force them to pay back the stolen money.
Correction: The population of Flordell Hills is about 725. A previous version of this story had an incorrect figure.
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