July 10--ST. LOUIS -- Former Missouri Gov. Roger Wilson was sentenced to probation in federal court here Monday for misusing money to make political donations.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Mary Ann Medler's sentence was expected. Wilson faced probation to six months in prison under federal sentencing guidelines. His lawyer, Robert Haar, had asked for probation, citing his long public service record.
After a lengthy investigation, Wilson was indicted in April on a misdemeanor insurance charge for laundering a total $8,000 in campaign contributions from Missouri Employers Mutual Co., a state-created workers' compensation company based in Columbia, to the Missouri Democratic Party through a St. Louis law firm, Herzog Crebs. Former Herzog Crebs partner Ed Griesedieck III was also indicted.
Wilson was president and CEO of MEM at the time.
Medler sentenced Wilson to two years of probation and ordered him to pay a $5,000 fine and $5,000 in restitution. He will also complete 100 hours of community service.
Griesedieck received one year of probation. The other aspects of his sentence were the same.
In court Wilson read a short statement in which he thanked his family and friends. He apologized and said he looks forward to a future in community service.
"There are no excuses," he said. "I made a mistake."
He read a similar statement outside the courthouse. He also said that he had already paid the fine and half of the restitution. Griesedieck presumably has or will pay the rest.
State campaign finance records show that the contributions, $5,000 on Aug. 28, 2009, and $3,000 on Dec. 22, 2009, came from the Herzog Crebs law firm. The $5,000 was reimbursed via bogus legal bills paid by MEM, which Wilson reviewed and approved.
Former MEM chairman Doug Morgan, who orchestrated the scheme, asked Griesedieck to bill the $3,000 contribution in two parts to him, planning to get reimbursed from MEM.
But by August 2010, Morgan had not paid the bill, and asked Griesedieck to bill the insurer instead. MEM's in-house counsel reviewed the legal bill, and asked Wilson about it. He denied any knowledge of the contribution or the agreement to bill it to the insurer, his plea says.
He wrote a personal check for the money on Nov. 3, 2010, after talking to Griesedieck and Morgan in September and October, his plea says.
Griesedieck also pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor in connection with the case and will be sentenced later today. He has agreed not to practice law for 18 months and his law license has been suspended pending a final disciplinary ruling from the Missouri Supreme Court.
Wilson served two terms as lieutenant governor and nearly 14 years in the state senate. He also formerly chaired the Missouri Tourism Commission and the Missouri Rural Economic Development Council.
Wilson was sworn in as Missouri's 52nd governor following the death of Gov. Mel Carnahan in 2000 in a plane crash.
After leaving office, Wilson worked for a money management firm and served as the Missouri Democratic Party's chairman from 2004 to 2007.
Griesedieck was a partner and member of Herzog Crebs' management committee, did corporate and real estate work and acted as general counsel for a number of corporations throughout the Midwest, according to the firm's website. He also is a former city attorney and prosecuting attorney for several St. Louis County communities and hosted the "Ask the Attorney" program on KMOX for 20 years.
He graduated from Notre Dame and St. Louis University Law School.
The indictments of Wilson and Griesedieck came during a series of scandals at MEM, including a critical state audit and the indictment of Morgan and another board member. Both later died while awaiting trial.
In April, after the indictments and guilty pleas, MEM issued a written statement indicating that "internal and external, independent investigations have confirmed there have been no other similar incidents at MEM."
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