ST. LOUIS COUNTY - St. Louis County has taken steps to get back millions of dollars embezzled by one of its top administrators.
The case centers around Ed Mueth, the No. 2 man at the St. Louis County Health Department. He committed suicide last September, just as an audit was about to be launched. Investigations would determine that Mueth formed a bogus IT company that then obtained county contracts worth millions of dollars.
Mueth's luxurious lifestyles, which included a million-dollar home in Webster Groves, never matched his $86,000 a year salary. The fact that his county bosses didn't notice the scheme for six years has been the focus of a nasty election pitting St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley against County Councilman Steve Stenger.
One Stenger ad implies mismanagement and corruption and it points to the FBI investigation into the millions of lost dollars.
"We are filing a claim with our insurance carrier and we are petitioning the probate court making a claim against the estate to try to recover any assets purchased with the stolen funds," said Deputy County Counselor Bob Grant.
Another part of the Mueth case now involves a legal battle between the FBI and the ACLU. Both sides were in court Wednesday afternoon because the ACLU is suing to have its report into the Mueth case made public.
The FBI determined that Mueth acted alone in stealing the money and then investigators handed the finished report over to county officials. As soon as that happened, the ACLU argues, the report became public.
"The ACLU's perspective is about transparency of state government. Missouri has a very robust sunshine law that allows for the public to keep an eye on its government and when records are obtained by a county government official as they are here, under the law, we believe the public has a right to see them too," said Tony Rothert, ACLU legal director.
The U.S. attorney's office intervening on behalf of the FBI argues the report should be closed. Federal officials will file a brief supporting its argument early next month and another hearing is scheduled for August 8. That by the way, is three days after the primary election.
NewsChannel 5 has requested a copy of the report from both the FBI and St. Louis County. Grant says the county is willing to make the report public, but has been prohibited from doing so by directives from the federal government.