Top aide to Stenger to plead guilty in corruption case

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ST. LOUIS (AP) — The chief of staff for St. Louis County's former executive is expected to plead guilty to federal charges related to the pay-to-play scheme that has already ensnared his ex-boss and one other person, prosecutors said Thursday.

The U.S. attorney's office in St. Louis said Bill Miller, who was Democrat Steve Stenger's chief of staff, will plead guilty Friday to theft of honest services through bribery and wire fraud. No other details were released about the allegations against Miller.

No phone listing could be found for Miller, and it wasn't immediately clear if he had an attorney to comment on his behalf.

Stenger pleaded guilty on May 3 to charges for directing county contracts to campaign donors. Federal prosecutors cited businesses operated by John Rallo, who was indicted earlier this month and has pleaded not guilty.

Sheila Sweeney, the county's former economic development chief appointed by Stenger, pleaded guilty to helping cover up Stenger's crimes.

Both Stenger and Sweeney face sentencing in August. Sentencing guidelines suggest he could get up to four years in prison, and she could get up to a year.

Miller served as Stenger's chief of staff from December 2017 until resigning in April, saying he was leaving to "pursue other employment opportunities." Miller, an attorney, served as acting policy director for then-Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, from May 2015 to January 2017.

Stenger admitted in his guilty plea that he took actions to ensure that county contracts went to two Rallo-owned companies — Cardinal Insurance and Cardinal Creative Consulting — and to ensure that another Rallo company obtained options to buy two properties that were held by the county's Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority.

Stenger also took action to ensure that an unnamed company obtained a state lobbying contract from the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership, an agency headed by Sweeney.

The bribery indictment against Rallo claimed he gave Stenger tens of thousands of dollars in donations with the understanding that his companies would get contracts.

Stenger, 47, resigned on April 29, the same day his indictment was announced.

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