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Ex-alderman Collins-Muhammad pleads guilty in federal bribery case

ST. LOUIS (AP) — The first of three former St. Louis aldermen accused in a federal bribery case has pleaded guilty to helping a small-business owner get financial breaks in exchange for cars, cash and campaign donations.

Former Alderman John Collins-Muhammad admitted on Tuesday to the bribery, racketeering and wire fraud crimes.

John Collins-Muhammad, former Ward 21 alderman

He faces between three and four years in prison if U.S. District Judge Stephen R. Clark accepts his plea agreement. Collins-Muhammad will remain free on pretrial release until a Dec. 6 sentencing.

grand jury in May indicted Collins-Muhammad, as well as former Alderman Jeffery Boyd, and Lewis Reed, former president of the Board of Aldermen, for the scheme. All three resigned.

Prosecutors accused Collins-Muhammad of accepting $7,000 in cash, $3,000 in campaign donations, a new iPhone 11 and a 2016 Volkswagen CC sedan.

The indictment also alleges that Reed asked the business owner for $20,000 in campaign cash as part of an effort to redraw the ward map to protect Collins-Muhammad from activists who wanted to recall him from office.

Reed and Boyd are expected to plead guilty Friday.

Mayor Tishaura Jones issued the following statement after Collins-Muhammad’s guilty plea:

“When politicians break the law to serve themselves instead of the people they were elected to serve, everyone loses. In a conversation detailed in his indictment, former alderman John Collins-Muhammad notes that ‘I’m on Tishaura’s shit list, and she’s on mine too.’ While that’s one list I’m proud to be on, the former alderman’s actions outlined in his federal indictment have embarrassed St. Louis and our city government. The federal corruption charges against Lewis Reed, John Collins-Muhammad, and Jeffrey Boyd have further shaken the faith St. Louisans have in their government.

“It’s time to turn the page on the past and move on from the failed status quo. I am ready to work with the Board of Aldermen in the coming legislative session to help rebuild trust by enacting development incentive reform that improves transparency, promotes community involvement, and eliminates conflicts of interest.

“I am praying for Collins-Muhammad as well as his loved ones, who are suffering through no fault of their own.”

The NorthSider/ staff contributed to this report.

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