Breaking News
More () »

Man sentenced after informing on aldermen, St. Louis County appointee

The man was convicted of conspiracy to traffic in contraband cigarettes. He was tied to the bribery schemes that led to St. Louis indictments.
Credit: Sara Machi

ST. LOUIS — A man was sentenced for a conviction related to contraband cigarettes Monday. He is the alleged informant at the center of the bribery and fraud investigations that took down three St. Louis aldermen and a St. Louis County political appointee.

Mohammed Almuttan was sentenced to 48 months in prison plus 2 years of supervised release. Almuttan was convicted of conspiracy to traffic contraband cigarettes.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office charged Almuttan in 2017 with money laundering, conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and analogues, in addition to conspiracy to traffic contraband cigarettes.

A source familiar with the investigation has identified Almuttan as the informant who wore wires while bribing the public officials.

Almuttan owns some of the properties at the center of the alleged bribery schemes that led to indictments of St. Louis aldermen and a St. Louis County official. 

The informant listed as John Doe and John Smith in the indictments against the aldermen – including former Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed, and aldermen Jeffrey Boyd and John Collins-Muhammed as well as St. Louis County political appointee Tony Weaver – is characterized as the owner of those types of properties.

Reed, Boyd, Collins-Muhammed and Weaver pleaded guilty to federal charges.

St. Louis City NAACP weighs in

The St. Louis City NAACP wanted a federal judge to know there’s more to the story.

On Sept. 22, the Rev. Elston McCowan wrote a letter to U.S. District Judge Ronnie White stating Almuttan is in good standing with the St. Louis City NAACP for three reasons, which include his ownership of several small businesses in low-income areas, how those businesses prevent the areas from being “food deserts” and that he is a “kind and charitable,” man.

“Unfortunately, that is only part of the story,” wrote Adolphus Pruitt III, president of the St. Louis City NAACP, in a letter he gave to the judge Monday. “There is some additional information which raises grave concerns about Mr. Almuttan and his respect for the Courts.”

McCowan is the 1st Vice-President of the St. Louis City NAACP. In his letter, Pruitt said Almuttan approached McCowan about writing a letter urging leniency in his case.

“Rev. McCowan asked Mr. Almuttan specifically if his situation was part of the wide ranging public corruptions cases before the courts and Mr. Almuttan assured him that he was not,” Pruitt wrote. “Thus, Mr. Almutton has acted to deceive not only Mr. McCowan but also the Court.

“Mr. Almuttan’s attempt at deception and manipulation of the justice system should be part of the record and weighted appropriately with respect to sentencing.”

In his letter, Pruitt tells the judge he has not asked McCowan to rescind his letter or write one to the contrary, even though McCowan offered to do so.

“Its contents in many ways are factual, but obtained through malice,” Pruitt wrote. “I further attest that the St. Louis City Branch of the NAACP is not in support of leniency in any form for Mr. Almuttan.”

Pruitt told 5 On Your Side he would not comment beyond his letter.

“I think the letter speaks for itself,” he said. “If I was in St. Louis, it would have been filed yesterday.”

Almuttan’s attorney has not returned a phone call seeking comment on the latest allegations.

In a motion seeking probation for his client, Attorney Justin Gelfand wrote: “Almuttan is a good man who will be forever defined by this conviction regardless of what sentence this court imposes. However, the true testament of a person’s character is what they do when the world is collapsing around them. Time and time again, Almuttan has answered that question through his actions: when he was forced to discontinue his education after sixth grade, he buckled down and worked hard—even as a small child—to provide for his family; when he immigrated to the United States with no more than the clothes he was wearing, he worked tirelessly to build one small business at a time; and when he was the victim—twice—of gun violence solely because he was at work, not because he was involved in any nefarious activity, he suffered through pain, trials, and tribulations to continue to provide for his family and to better his communities in the process. The world is truly a better place because he is in it—and that cannot be said of everyone who finds himself before a federal criminal court for sentencing.”

He continued: “A sentence of probation is not a slap on the wrist—it is, instead, the appropriate sentence in this case taking into account all relevant considerations including Almuttan’s role in his family, his place in the community, and his persistent commitment to righting his wrong and never finding himself in this position ever again.”

Before You Leave, Check This Out