Posted on May 25, 2011

Kinloch Mayor Allegedly Used City Money for Personal Travel, Bills

Robert Patrick and Elizabethe Holland, St. Louis Dispatch, May 24, 2011

For 12 years, Mayor Keith Conway has presided over a dying community.

The population of Kinloch, as high as 14,000 in the days it was known as “Little Harlem New York,” was down to 298 by the 2010 census. Much of the land was long ago taken in buyouts by nearby Lambert-St. Louis International Airport for noise abatement. Revenue shriveled, too.

To get it away from it all, federal prosecutors claim, Conway used some of the dwindling city funds to pay for airline flights to Las Vegas and his Palm Beach Shores Resorts & Vacation Villas time share in Florida, also purchased with taxpayers’ money.

He also used municipal money to pay $9,004 toward delinquent federal taxes, $1,000 of his credit card bill, bills for cruises to the Bahamas and more than $2,000 for the electric bill in his city-owned home in the 8000 block of Schoolway Avenue, according to a May 19 indictment unsealed Monday.

In all, Conway stole at least $25,000 from city coffers from January 2010 to March 31, 2011, according to prosecutors who say at least some of it came from a $90,000 federal grant in fiscal 2009 that was meant to pay for an extra police officer.

Conway, 47, was arrested Monday morning at City Hall, and arrived in federal court in St. Louis in jeans, hiking boots and a T-shirt with the words: “I’m the boss. No Questions. No Arguments. We’ll just do things my way. Orlando, FL.”



The city has been dogged for years by allegations of fraud, corruption and mismanagement.

Since the 1960s, aldermen have repeatedly complained about inaction by the police department, and officers complained about meddling. {snip}

In 1972, then-Acting Chief Arie Lindsey said he was suspended after he uncovered evidence that some officers and city officials were running a stolen auto “chop shop” and misappropriating city funds.

Cars and a trailer used by county police as a headquarters there were firebombed, and city and police officials were arrested at various times by various agencies.

In 1990, some former police officers and employees of a security company claimed that Kinloch police were protecting drug dealers. {snip}

The Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations filed a misdemeanor charge against Conway in 2009 for allegedly violating a statute requiring liability and workers’ compensation insurance.



Despite Conway’s “Save Our City Campaign” that dates at least as far back as 2001, the city continued to decline.

No copy of the budget was available at City Hall on Monday. The city has not submitted a budget, as required, to the Missouri auditor’s office since 2006.

That year, Kinloch reported revenue of more than $500,000, including $210,000 from apartment rental income. The city spent $310,000 on salaries and more than $90,000 on debt payments.

The Post-Dispatch estimated that Kinloch earned roughly $100,000 last year from sales and property taxes and other sources, not including revenue from utilities taxes, fees and fines or grants.

In 2010, Conway told a reporter that the city had received $2 million of a promised $5 million from St. Louis County. The money, in exchange for 198 acres of city land for the NorthPark development, was supposed to fund major public improvements.

Conway said the city used about $200,000 for a historic district and the rest to pay off debts and fund day-to-day operations. The historic district includes a “Walk of Fame” showcasing famous area residents. Many of the 80 available plaques are boarded up, awaiting a name, but Conway and aldermen have already gotten spots.