Troubled Pine Lawn Court 'Continues to Fail,' Missouri Auditor Says

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Pine Lawn's municipal court is still a problem, the state auditor says. - PHOTO BY DOYLE MURPHY
  • Photo by Doyle Murphy
  • Pine Lawn's municipal court is still a problem, the state auditor says.
Six months after documenting serious problems with Pine Lawn's municipal court, state investigators say it's still really messed up.

"Despite agreeing to corrective action earlier this year the Pine Lawn municipal court continues to fail to meet the most basic threshold of functional and productive operations," state Auditor Nicole Galloway said in a statement, announcing the findings of a follow-up investigation.

Pine Lawn, a tiny north county suburb, has a history of using its court to prop up its government. Auditors previously found 46 percent of the city's budget came from traffic fines, far more than the law allows. The city likely owed more than $400,000 to the state Department of Revenue as a result, the auditors concluded.

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That situation hasn't been resolved.

"That money has not been paid, and city officials do not appear to have any plans to do so," according to a news release from Galloway's office.

Galloway had recommended in June that Pine Lawn make improvements in ten areas, designed to update the court's bookkeeping. The court has only followed through on one of those recommendations — updating processes to include complete information in case files — since then, Galloway says.

Pine Lawn disbanded its police department in March following complaints of predatory practices. A former lieutenant who was the city's top-ranking officer is now in federal prison after falsely arresting a mayoral candidate.

The city's former mayor is also in federal prison after he was caught taking bribes from contractors.

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