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Ex-Alderman Arnowitz gets year in prison for fraud

ST. LOUIS  — Onetime 12th Ward Alderman Larry Arnowitz was sentenced Friday to a year in federal prison for misusing more than $21,000 in campaign funds.

Arnowitz, 66, pleaded guilty Friday to mail fraud. In addition to the prison sentence, he was sentenced to six months of house arrest and must pay back the money.

Federal prosecutors say the former Democratic alderman used campaign funds for his home mortgage and other personal expenses. Arnowitz lied to donors about how the money was used and falsified financial reports, prosecutors said.

Arnowitz was first elected in 2011. He resigned in March, shortly after a federal indictment was announced. The day before his resignation, he stunned City Hall insiders with a one-sentence letter announcing he was resigning immediately for unnamed personal reasons.

Arnowitz’s daughter, Traci Marie Arnowitz, had died three months earlier. 

The grand jury indictment alleged that Arnowitz 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.

He could have received a sentence of up to 20 years and a fine of up to $250,000. 

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 worked in the treasurer’s office, the license collector’s office and the sheriff’s office.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Staff is home to The NorthSider and The SouthSider weekly community newspapers. The SouthSider publishes 25,000 copies every Tuesday. The NorthSider publishes 25,000 copies every Thursday. They are distributed at over 600 locations across St. Louis.

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