FLORDELL HILLS, Mo. — For six years, Maureen Woodson, 68, and Donna Thompson, 75, stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from the town they were supposed to be serving as clerks, according to a federal grand jury indictment.
The roommates used it to gamble online and at area casinos, pay their rent and taxes, go out to dinner and enjoy other entertainment, according to the indictment.
And now they’re facing decades in a federal penitentiary for it after observant bank tellers discovered the scheme.
Woodson, the former city clerk, and Thompson, the former assistant city clerk, are facing two counts of wire fraud and two counts of mail fraud. Each charge carries a punishment of up to 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine or both.
“Flordell Hills is a very a small, if not tiny community in North Saint Louis County, with approximately 800 residents,” said Hal Goldsmith, Assistant U.S. Attorney. “Its annual operating budget is about $400,000.
“So this scheme to embezzle was substantial…Then there is evidence that from time to time, Flordell Hills was unable to pay its bills.”
The women stole about $663,000 between February 2016 and April 2022 by using Flordell Hills bank checks or wire transfers of city money, according to the indictment.
“The fraud was first detected by the bank,” Goldsmith told 5 On Your Side. “They alerted the city’s mayor, who then brought in the city’s treasurer and federal law enforcement.
“They had two party signatures on the checks to try to stop this thing, but the grand jury alleges that the two defendants forged the mayor's signature and the treasurer's signature on the checks in order to carry out their scheme.”
In all, the duo wrote 614 city checks to themselves totaling more than $531,000 without the authority or knowledge of Flordell Hills and its mayor, treasurer or board of aldermen, according to the indictment.
About 368 checks worth $376,026 were written to Woodson and 246 checks worth $155,329 were written to Thompson, according to the indictment.
Woodson and Thompson are also accused of using $132,249 in city funds to pay personal expenses including retail vendor charges, entertainment, restaurants, rent for their home and taxes they owed to the Internal Revenue Service. The women either used Flordell Hills bank checks to pay the bills or used wire transfers of city money, according to the indictment.
Woodson was hired in 2010 and Thompson in 2012. Both women were terminated in May, according to federal prosecutors.
Flordell Hills is roughly six square blocks and has a population of about 800. A little more than half of its residents live below the poverty line, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
“It would be devastating for any city to have its money stolen year over year,” Special Agent in Charge Jay Greenberg of the FBI St. Louis Division wrote. “It’s exponentially worse when an impoverished community gets fleeced by those sworn to serve it.
“Fighting public corruption is the FBI’s top criminal priority because such crimes undermine the community’s faith in our government.”
The indictment also contains a forfeiture provision seeking to recover the money.