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Mayor Slay Reacts to Theft Allegations Against Parks Officials

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(UPI Photo/Bill Greenblatt)

(UPI Photo/Bill Greenblatt)

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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - Calling it a “terrible betrayal of public trust,” St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay gave his first comments Thursday morning on allegations that two St. Louis Parks officials stole nearly half a million dollars from the city.

A federal grand jury indicted 43-year-old Thomas “Dan” Stritzel, the city’s chief park ranger, and 55-year-old deputy parks commissioner Joseph Vacca.

The indictment released Thursday accuses each man of three mail-fraud counts, alleging they men used various schemes to spend $465,000 on vehicle leases, credit card bills and other expenses.

The fraud allegedly occurred over the course of seven years but Slay said Thursday that federal prosecutors tell him the thefts were not something the city could have uncovered on its own.

“Based on the information that they have, this was kind of done offline so it’s nothing that our normal processes of supervision and auditing would have caught,” the mayor said.

Slay says the city is “re-doubling back” to see if there is similar fraud occurring or anyone else involved.

“Particularly those involved in having money flow through their departments, to double check some of their processes and their people to make sure this kind of thing doesn’t happen in other areas of city government,” he said.

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