Tim Lohmar | St. Louis Public Radio

Tim Lohmar

An illustration showing Lady Justice with a mask over her face.
David Kovaluk | St Louis Public Radio

The coronavirus pandemic brought normal court operations across Missouri to a sudden halt. 

Jury trials were postponed, other court proceedings moved to video conferencing or were done over the telephone, and access to courthouses was strictly limited. Now, the easing of state and local restrictions means courthouses are slowly opening, but it may be a long time before operations fully resume.

Florissant Police Department Chief Timothy Fagan and St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney Tim Lohmar announce charges against a now-fired Florissant police officer. June 17, 2020
Bill Greenblatt | UPI

A now-fired Florissant police officer has been charged with first-degree assault after officials said he drove his unmarked police vehicle into a man earlier this month.

St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney Tim Lohmar also charged former officer Joshua Smith with assault in the fourth degree and armed criminal action. Lohmar took over the case after the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office cited a conflict of interest.

“This is a case where we have had these situations before where a police officer was not involved but where someone used a vehicle as a weapon,” Lohmar said Wednesday. “In those circumstances we’ve always charged it with assault first degree and armed criminal action.”

In the past two decades, the federal government took in $36.5 billion in assets police seized from people, many of whom never were charged with a crime or shown to have drugs.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

This story is part of a collaborative-reporting initiative supported by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. All stories can be found here: https://taken.pulitzercenter.org/

Law-enforcement agencies in St. Charles County got a budget windfall of more than $1 million in 2017.

The unplanned money wasn’t the result of higher taxes or donations, but instead came from a court process known as civil asset forfeiture.

St. Louis County Councilman Ernie Trakas, R-south St. Louis County, voted against a few nominees to the Board of Freeholders that were proposed by County Executive Sam Page.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

A St. Charles County judge ruled that a St. Louis County councilman did not violate a prohibition against working for a government agency.

The decision means that Councilman Ernie Trakas can remain on the St. Louis County Council — an outcome the south St. Louis County Republican said he expected.

St. Louis County Councilman Ernie Trakas
Alex Heuer I St. Louis Public Radio

A special prosecutor is recommending that St. Louis County Councilman Ernie Trakas forfeit his post because his legal work for school districts violates the county charter.

The prosecutor’s petition, filed late Friday, is expected to set off a process that could force Trakas off the council within a few months. Trakas is part of a bipartisan, four-person council coalition that frequently is at odds with County Executive Steve Stenger, a Democrat.

Members of the St. Louis Regional Heroin Initiative flank posters listing those arrested for heroin-related charges Wednesday, June 10, 2015 in the St. Charles City Police Department.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

More than 50 heroin traffickers have been arrested for crimes committed in St. Charles County. Most were arrested in a 30-hour period, bringing a swift conclusion to a ten-month collaborative investigation.

Since last fall state, local and federal authorities have been working together to bring about the arrests, representing what the head of the St. Louis region’s Drug Enforcement Agency described as a more proactive partnership than past collaborations.