Steve Stenger is very sorry.
Steve Stenger, the disgraced and soon-to-be-imprisoned former St. Louis County Executive, wants a judge know he is sorry for doing crimes and that he is now suffering from a "deep and constant feeling of remorse" — a description that stands in remarkable contrast to a recently-published trove of truly, incredibly corrupt shit this guy said while in office.
In May, Stenger pleaded guilty to federal charges
related to a bribery scheme, and he's due to be sentenced this Friday. But thanks to a sentencing memo filed by prosecutors, we now know the county executive was perversely proud of his accomplishments as, well, a lazy conman.
"How 'bout that motherf—-ers?" Stenger allegedly said after winning re-election in November 2018, his comments captured on a secret recording. "I don't show up to the Council meetings. I don't do f—-ing s—-. I've been sitting at my house for the past two months f—-ing raising money and then won by 20%!"
According to the prosecutor's documents, Stenger concluded his boast with the extremely accurate summation, "The world's a f—-ed up place."
Now, nine months after making those statements, Stenger is hoping U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry will only give him the minimum 37 months in prison, instead of the maximum 46. In Stenger's letter, which was first described earlier today by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
, the ex-executive said he'd gotten into politics with "simple and pure" intentions, but had been led astray by "winning political fights and amassing political capital and campaign contributions."
However, there is no evidence of Stenger's alleged purity in the prosecutor's case against him. In the sentencing memo, federal prosecutors argued that Stenger deserves the maximum 46 months.
"The approximately one million residents of St. Louis County all depended upon defendant Stenger to do the right thing as the elected county executive," prosecutors wrote, and later added that Stenger's bribery schemes allowed him to "free up his own funds for his personal lifestyle." Stenger, the memo alleged, treated government contracts "as something to barter away as if they were his own personal thank you gifts."
But it is the excerpts from secret recordings of Stenger that really make the prosecution's case. In the passages, Stenger seems to radiates the confidence of, well, a politician who believes he is entitled to absolute control of a government where he "doesn't have to do fucking shit" to get elected.
And more than that — he thought it was working really well! In January, according to prosecutors, he bragged about being able to hide his do-nothing hires from the scrutiny County Council.
How nice of him to care. Between Stenger's naked avarice and his bizarre glee at the perversions of power that benefited him, the judge surely has a lot to consider when weighing Stenger's regret.
You can read the prosecutor's full memo below:
Follow Danny Wicentowski on Twitter at @D_Towski. E-mail the author at Danny.Wicentowski@RiverfrontTimes.com
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