St. Louis Parks Division Deputy Commission and Chief of Park Rangers Indicted on Fraud Charges
|U.S. Attorney’s Office May 16, 2013|
ST. LOUIS—Joseph Vacca, deputy commissioner of the St. Louis Parks Division, and Thomas Stritzel, chief of the St. Louis Park Rangers, were indicted by a federal grand jury late Wednesday on fraud charges alleging that they defrauded the city of St. Louis of approximately one-half million dollars by submitting false and sham invoices purportedly for materials and services supplied to the Parks Division. They are expected to turn themselves in to authorities this week.
The indictment alleges that from January 1, 2005 to on or about December 31, 2012, Vacca and Stritzel embezzled funds of the city of St. Louis based upon the submission of sham and false invoices which included false charges of approximately $464,722. They used the funds for their own personal use, including lease payments on personal vehicles, fuel costs, the payment of personal credit card charges, and other personal living expenses unrelated to the legitimate operations of the St. Louis Parks Division.
According to the indictment, Vacca and Stritzel set up a sham company called Dynamic Management and then funneled city funds received through the submission of false and sham invoices to Dynamic Management’s bank account. Vacca and Stritzel then used those fraudulently obtained funds for their own personal use, including for the leasing of personal vehicles, the payment of fuel costs, and the payment of personal credit card charges.
“Taxpayers were slapped in the face when roughly half a million dollars was allegedly embezzled from city of St. Louis funds allocated to the Parks Department,” said Special Agent in Charge Dean C. Bryant of the FBI St. Louis Division. “The cooperation from the city of St. Louis enabled the FBI to uncover the multiple fraudulent schemes.”
If convicted, each of these charges carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and/or fines up to $250,000. In determining the actual sentences, a judge is required to consider the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide recommended sentencing ranges.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Hal Goldsmith is handling the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
As is always the case, charges set forth in an indictment are merely accusations and do not constitute proof of guilt. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty.