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Former Board of Alderman president doesn't think he should repay FBI for bribe money, but agrees to fine

Lewis Reed has been asked to repay the $18,500 in bribes he accepted from an FBI informant.
Credit: Bill Greenblatt/UPI
St. Louis Board of Alderman President Lewis Reed, shown in this December 31, 2020 file photo, has been indicted along with two aldermen, by a federal grand jury on corruption charges in St. Louis on Thursday, June 2, 2022. The indictment alleges all three used their official position as Board of Aldermen members to accept payments to assist John Doe, a small business owner. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI

ST. LOUIS — Former St. Louis Board of Alderman President Lewis Reed doesn’t believe he should have to repay the government for the money it used to catch him in a bribery scheme – but he is willing to pay a fine equal to that amount.

Reed is the second of three former alderman to object to returning money an FBI informant used during the investigation.

John Collins-Muhammed recently entered a motion opposing a recommendation that he pay back about $19,500 in bribes he accepted from the informant.

Reed has been asked to return $18,500. His attorney, Adam Fein, wrote: “Restitution is due only to ‘victims’ and only for their ‘losses.’ Here, the FBI is not a ‘victim,’ and it did not suffer a ‘loss’ in connection with the investigative funds it expended…That said, the parties will agree to a fine equal to the amount of the bribes Reed received and notify this court of that amount prior to sentencing.”

Reed and Collins-Muhammad, along with former St. Louis alderman Jeffrey Boyd and St. Louis County Executive Sam Page’s political appointee Tony Weaver, got indicted earlier this year for accepting bribes from an FBI informant.

All have pleaded guilty and are in various stages of negotiating their sentences.

As part of those negotiations, all are undergoing presentence investigation reports in which the United States Probation Office discusses a range of punishments and fines.

Reed and Collins-Muhammed’s attorneys have both cited the Victim and Witness Protection Act of 1982 in their filings objecting to the repayments, saying it “does not authorize courts to order restitution of ‘buy money’ because restitution under the statute is for ‘victims,’ and the government is not a victim when it fronts buy/bribe money or other investigative costs.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Hal Goldsmith fired back to Collins-Muhammed in a motion, stating, “Defendant has admitted his involvement in the bribery scheme, and his illegal receipt of cash bribes and other things of value totaling approximately $19,500. He simply doesn’t want to pay back the United States for the value of the bribes he received.”

Goldsmith also cited a 1991 case in which the federal courts determined that a fine of twice the amount of bribes a defendant accepted was appropriate.

“This court may consider a fine of up to twice the defendant’s gross gain, or in the instant case, up to $39,000, which is well within the applicable guideline range,” Goldsmith wrote.

Goldsmith has not yet responded to Reed’s motion.

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