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Former St. Louis city senior managers admit fraud

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)-- Two former senior managers for the City of St. Louis admitted how they stole from taxpayers for years.

Thomas Dan Stritzel was the Chief Park Ranger at the time.  Joseph Vacca was a Deputy Parks Commissioner.  The Feds indicted them this spring. Now four months later, they`ve admitted to how they defrauded taxpayers for eight years.

After the change of plea hearing, FOX 2 reporter Chris Hayes asked  Stritzel, "Could the City have done anything to catch you sooner?"

Stritzel's attorney interrupted, "He has no comment. Thank you."
Stritzel repeated, "No comment."

Stritzel and Vacca admitted overbilling the city and then having the proceeds sent to their sham company.  They haven`t yet admitted how much money they embezzled, but prosecutors say it`s about half a million dollars.

Vacca`s attorney, Art Margulis, said his client apologizes to taxpayers, "He`s clearly very remorseful for what`s happened.  It shouldn`t have happened.  There are some things that we`re working on that I`m hopeful will be useful to mitigate his sentence, but he admits his guilt and he`s willing to accept the responsibility for it."

The US Attorney said the scheme was so complex that it couldn`t be caught in an audit.  Stritzel and Vacca were senior managers.  They were in charge of signing off on the purchase orders.  That betrayal of the public trust could weigh into what the judge decides should be their punishment.  They`ll be sentenced in December.

E-mail Chris.Hayes@TvStl.com
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