CITY HALL – Allegations that he used money from his campaign fund for his own personal purposes have ended the career of 12th Ward Alderman Larry Arnowitz.
The United States Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Missouri announced Wednesday in a news release that a federal grand jury had indicted him on one count of mail fraud related to his illegal use of campaign funds for his personal use and expenses.
The news came a day after Arnowitz stunned City Hall insiders with a one-sentence letter announcing he was resigning immediately for unnamed personal reasons.
The grand jury indictment alleged that Arnowitz, 66, used money from his “Friends of Larry Arnowitz” campaign committee for personal purposes from June 2015 through February 2019.
“From time to time, Arnowitz made cash withdrawals from his ‘Friends of Larry Amowitz’ campaign committee bank account and deposited those cash funds in his personal bank account, using those funds to pay for personal living expenses unrelated to any legitimate campaign and re-election purpose,” the indictment said.In false reports to the Missouri Ethics Commission, Arnowitz didn’t mention withdrawals he made from his campaign committee’s bank account for personal use, the indictment said.
In February 2019, Arnowitz mailed a $5,000 cashier’s check with money obtained from his campaign committee’s account to make a payment to his mortgage company, the indictment said.
Arnowitz’s attorney, Patrick T. Conroy, would not elaborate on the charge.
“We really don’t have any other comment on that. It’s a very sad time for Larry and his family,” Conroy said.
Arnowitz could get a sentence of up to 20 years and a fine of up to $250,000. He also would have to make restitution. A judge would have to consider U.S. sentencing guidelines. Restitution is also mandatory. In determining the actual sentence, a judge is required to consider the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide recommended sentencing ranges.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is in charge of the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Hal Goldsmith is in charge of the case.
Arnowitz’s resignation came three months after the death of his daughter Traci Marie Arnowitz on Nov. 2.
Arnowitz was first elected in 2011. He was chair of the aldermanic Health and Human Services Committee. In more than 35 years of service, he has worked in the treasurer’s office, the license collector’s office and the sheriff’s office.
He was known around city hall for his cheerful, friendly demeanor. He frequently talked on his Facebook page about riding along with police.
Arnowitz’s resignation leaves the Board of Aldermen short two members. Fourth Ward Alderman Samuel Moore died Feb. 25.
Gary Stoff, the Republican director of the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners, said the St. Louis City Democratic Committee would name Democratic candidates for both positions to run in a special election. Others could file to run as independents.
According to the City Charter, there must be a special election for a vacancy in the Board of Aldermen if it occurred more than 180 days before a city general election. The date should be between 75 and 90 days after the vacancy occurred.
The only Tuesday when there could be a special election in both the Fourth and 12th Wards would be May 19. Stoff spoke favorably of that date for an election but wouldn’t make a commitment.