by Jon Schuessler
Ed Mueth worked for the St. Louis County Health Department under the official title “Division Manager for Administrative Services”. The layers of bureaucracy that implies make it less surprising, perhaps, that Mueth became one of the most successful embezzlers in county history. Mueth assumed a secret identity as the head of a fake company which took millions from the Health Department.
His alter ego, known as David Neff, was president of a company called Gateway Technical Solutions. The company had supposedly rented laptops to St. Louis County and provided technical assistance since 2008. Nobody, however, could ever recall actually getting anything from the company.
That fact went unnoticed for many years, until Ed Mueth, a.k.a. David Neff, got greedy. Late in the summer of 2013, Gateway Technical Solutions submitted a $187,450 bill to the Health Department. It raised a red flag for one of the financial officers, who had never seen a six-figure invoice without a detailed explanation of the services rendered.
The employee innocently tried to ask Mueth about David Neff, and got hostile responses. Eventually, the financial officer put an informal team together and discovered that Mueth had registered David Neff as a fictitious name with the Secretary of State. The group immediately contacted their superiors, figuring that they would go to the police.
Instead, the County administration summoned Mueth to a private meeting on the morning of September 20th, 2013.
That night, Mueth was found dead in his car, near his Webster Groves home. Police concluded that Mueth had put a .40 caliber Glock handgun to his head and pulled the trigger.(Click here to read the initial public statements)
After Mueth’s apparent suicide, the county and the FBI conducted separate probes of Mueth’s financial dealings. The total stolen appeared to be $3.4 million.
The county has tried to recover some of the money from the Mueth estate.
Longtime County Executive Charlie Dooley lost in the Democratic primary to Steve Stenger, who used the Mueth scandal to highlight Dooley’s incompetence in office. Stenger has promised to exert better control over the county’s finances.
A December 2015 county audit, under Stenger, suggested that up to $10 million may have been wasted or stolen from the county.(Click here to view the FBI audit)
Jon Schuessler is a Volunteer leader in Jefferson County, and the chairman for Missouri Volunteers for Government Reform, a Political Action Committee (PAC) of the Volunteer Movement. Click here to read his bio or contact him.