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Former Bridgeton council member charged with 'stealing by deceit'

The St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney's Office says the council member lived out of the city for over a year.

ST. LOUIS — A former Bridgeton council member is facing charges after moving out of the city and failing to inform the city of his new residence. 

Andrew Purcell, 36, was charged with stealing by deceit, the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney's Office announced in a news release Wednesday.

Purcell was a council member for the City of Bridgeton, Missouri, from April 5, 2020, to April 7, 2022.

The county prosecuting attorney's office says Purcell moved to Carterville, Illinois, in March 2021, where he later registered to vote. This made him ineligible to be a council member in Bridgeton.

Purcell did not notify the City of Bridgeton of his new residence and voter registration but continued to collect the $500 per month salary of a Bridgeton council member.

"As a former Councilman, I can attest to the fact that living in the district that one represents serves a real purpose. It ensures that elected leaders are visible and accessible to the residents they serve," said St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell in an emailed news release.

"Bridgeton Mayor Terry Briggs and I discussed how these alleged actions by the defendant not only distract from the very difficult and often thankless work that he and the rest of the Bridgeton City Council do every day, but is also a black eye on all those who choose public service as a way of giving back to their community," Bell said.

The charge is a class D felony. Purcell is facing jail time or a $10,000 fine, or a combination of imprisonment and fines.

Purcell's term as a council member ended in April after he did not run for reelection.

Purcell said at an Electoral Board meeting on March 25, ''It is my contention, under oath, that I am a resident of Williamson County and have been since March 1 of 2021."

Purcell represented Ward 2 in Bridgeton, the northwest quadrant of the city. There are four wards in Bridgeton. Two council members represent each ward. One council member from each ward is up for election every April.

Ward 2 is now represented by Bakula Patel and Jerry Grimmer.

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