ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – The case of two St. Louis City Parks Department employees who embezzled nearly $500,000 from taxpayers will come before a St. Louis Board of Aldermen committee this afternoon.

Chief Park Ranger Thomas “Dan” Stritzel and Deputy Parks Commissioner Joseph Vacca admit they diverted funds to a fake company for eight years until they were caught earlier this year.

Alderman Antonio French sits on the Parks Committee board that will take up the matter.

“What we have to do is learn from this mistake and create some systems so we can catch these kinds of activities because if someone can get away with half-a-million dollars, that may make it attractive to try it again,” French says.

The committee will seek answers to several questions, such as whether the FBI is still investigating the Parks Department and if more employees could be in trouble.

“They were only caught because of federal involvement,” French says of Stritzel and Vacca. “The city systems never caught them and so it was only because the FBI and the U.S. Attorney got involved. Now how they got involved, I don’t know. Were they tipped off by somebody?”

Prosecutors said in May that the theft was so clever it would have been almost impossible to detect.

Stritzel and Vacca are scheduled to be sentenced in St. Louis federal court on December 12.


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