Charges filed against Perryville workers accused of stealing city property

Sunday, April 22, 2012

PERRYVILLE, Mo. -- Three Perryville city workers were charged Friday with felony theft following a two-month probe into stolen city property that has resulted in the firing of at least four employees.

Warrants were issued Friday for the arrests of public works employees Charles S. LaRose, 54, Jeremy D. Meyer, 37, and Robert R. Brown, 34, all of Perryville.

Perry County Prosecuting Attorney Thomas Hoeh charged LaRose with two counts of felony theft for allegedly salvaging wiring from city projects and redeeming it in February and last May for approximately $6,700. Meyer and Brown were each charged with one count of felony theft for allegedly selling scrap wire in February valued at around $1,600.

According to probable-cause documents, LaRose said he sold about 600 feet of wire from Perryville Well No. 2 to Ace Scrap Metal Processors of St. Louis. The well had been damaged by lightning, requiring replacement of about 700 feet of wire.

Meyer, according to probable-cause documents, said he took wire from the city water treatment facility in February and that it was the only time he had sold city property, taking a tip from LaRose as to where to redeem it. He said that the practice had been going on for some time and that workers would store scrap, redeem it and then split the proceeds among themselves.

Brown also reportedly said he only participated in wire theft once. He is recorded in probable-cause documents as saying he and Meyer stored the wire for about nine months and stripped it for salvage on city time.

Both Brown and Meyer reportedly said they believed taking the wire was wrong.

City administrator Brent Buerck issued a release Friday that said former Public Works Director Jeremy Freeman established and communicated a policy in 2007 about how scrap material should be handled. All surplus materials were to be deposited in recycling bins placed behind the public works department. Probable-cause documents show that scrap was redeemed and proceeds were paid to city coffers, in line with city policy, three times during Freeman's 20 months as director.

Friday's release stated that the Perryville Police Department has concluded its criminal investigation and Buerck confirmed by phone that the city has finished its internal review as well.

Perryville began investigating reported incidents of stealing in February. City attorney Tom Ludwig advised Perryville police chief Keith Tarrillion, who had been leading the city's internal inquiry, to begin a criminal investigation in March.

Water/wastewater superintendent Charles LaRose, along with Chris Favier, James Thompson and Carl Davis of the public works department were terminated last month. Buerck said in a closed meeting March 6 that "it was determined through the police department's investigation that the four employees who were dismissed appeared to be most involved in the incidents and their actions rose to the level of a potential felony."

LaRose was later also relieved of his duties as fire chief by the city council. The fire department will elect a new chief next month.

Because personnel information is legally protected, Buerck could not say whether Meyer and Brown have been dismissed from city employment. He also could not say whether charges would be filed against the other terminated employees, Favier, Thompson and Davis.

Favier has asked for an appeal of his dismissal, which the board of aldermen agreed to schedule after the investigation had concluded. Buerck said Friday that the hearing would be held in the near future.

LaRose, Meyer and Brown could not be reached by phone Friday.

Tarrillion did not return messages left by phone and email Friday.

salderman@semissourian.com

388-3648

Pertinent address:

Perryville, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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