CLAYTON, MO (KPLR) – St. Louis County Executive, Charlie Dooley has been cleared of criminal wrongdoing in a federal investigation. The news prompted a fiery exit for Dooley, 67, from his final County Council meeting, Tuesday. Dooley said allegations of corruption cost him the primary election in August. After 20 years in county government, close to 11 as County Executive, Dooley bows out but with a roar. “To the rest of the board, I wish you all well. Gods speed. Happy holidays,” said just before the meeting ending.
Moments later he blasted county leaders past and present for what he said was a racially motivated plot to run him out of office. He and former St. Louis County Police Board chairman Greg Sansone, a Dooley appointee, had just been exonerated in a federal investigation. Sansone’s company received a $3.7 million contract for heating and cooling work at the county crime lab, while Sansone was still on the board. He later resigned amid allegations of impropriety and a violation of the county charter. But U.S. Attorney, Richard Callahan, just wrote Dooley a letter saying there was no finding of any criminal wrongdoing in the case. Incoming County Executive, Council Member Steve Stenger, turned away from Dooley and dodged the media after the meeting. “He knew it was a lie,” Dooley said of Stenger regarding the investigation. “They all knew it was a lie.” Dooley blasted Stenger, former St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch, and St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch, for allegedly orchestrating Dooley’s ouster. McCulloch blasted Dooley as a corrupt in TV ads for Stenger. “The conflicts and the corruption must stop. Together with Steve Stenger … we will restore the county’s integrity,” McCulloch said in one ad.
Dooley said it was all part of a coordinated effort. “Of course it was. It’s obvious. You have the trade unions, the white trade unions saying allegations that wasn’t true. You have the white sitting prosecutor, that’s never done this before, that says Charlie Dooley is corrupt... it’s the race card. He pulled the race card…the police chief, he indicated allegations about me, which was unfounded, wasn’t true at all.” He continued, “In the St. Louis metropolitan area, you know what’s happened the last couple of years, if you said an African-American official is alleged to have done some wrongdoing and 75% of the population is non-African American, what do you think is going to happen? What happened is exactly what happened. I lost in all of the non-African-American townships in this county, which I have never done before.” “I challenge him to say where race came into play here,” Fitch said. “Did I suddenly turn racist in the last year of my being in office against Charlie Dooley, because I supported him and he supported me all the way up until then…there’s no federal criminal violations. That certainly doesn’t mean there were no violations of the St. Louis County Charter… even if there wasn’t a federal crime that could be prosecuted, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t wrong.” “I am good with Charlie Dooley. I like where I stand on this thing. I have no regrets,” Dooley said.
McCulloch and Stenger have yet to respond. A member of Stenger’s team denied any coordinated effort and pointed out there was more than this one case, including the health department scandal and the botched shutdown of the county parks that showed Dooley was in deep trouble with voters.