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City Hall Looks For Answers After Embezzlement Charges

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(Credit: Thinkstock)

(Credit: Thinkstock)

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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - In the wake of last week’s indictments charging two St. Louis Parks Department employees with embezzling nearly $500,000 from the city, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay is vowing to review the city’s auditing systems to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

The job of leading that review has been given to St. Louis Operations Director Eddie Roth.

Last week, 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.

Prosecutors say the theft, allegedly committed over the course of seven years, was so clever it would have been almost impossible to detect. Still, Roth says department heads are going to discern how to make their systems even more secure.

“We’re going to have a bunch of really smart people sitting around the table and understanding this and each step and each detail so we can think through if there’s anything we can do better,” he said. “The supply department, the law department, the comptroller. We have a lot of really outstanding people with a good insight into how to have secure systems.”

Roth says one problem with the Parks Department case, which he calls a “sophisticated scheme,” is that officials allegedly involved were the ones who should have been watching for fraud.

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