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Mayor gasses up personal cars at government pump

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WELLSTON, MO (KPLR) - No apologies from a city mayor, caught on camera filling up his wife's truck on your dime.

It happened at a government gas pump at the St. Louis County Police Academy. It's typically for police officers who get a code from their city. That code gives officers access and tracks the amount of gallons they put into their vehicles. In Wellston, the mayor also gets access.

Fox 2’s investigation began when we obtained dash cam video taken by a police car in another municipality. It happened after May 23. The video appears to show Wellston Mayor Nathanial Griffin at the pump in a Dodge Challenger, with his wife’s Chevy truck behind him.

Fox 2 pulled the records kept by St. Louis County. They show Mayor Griffin used his gas card at 8:43 p.m. to fill exactly 19.64 gallons. For some context, a Dodge Challenger gas tank holds about 18 or 19 gallons.

We discovered a pattern of fill-ups exceeding that tank capacity 17 times in a three-month period, including the day after the mayor announced his town was disbanding the Wellston Police Department and joining the new North County Policing Cooperative.

On June 2, county records show he filled up with 19.52 gallons of gas at 10:52 p.m.

We showed the records to former Wellston Officer Michael Weaver.

“This right here, this is crazy,” he said. “You’ve got 8 o’clock, 9 o’clock, 10 o’clock.”

Weaver worked traffic. He said he was “constantly” driving, yet filled up much less than half what the mayor did, according to records obtained by the Fox Files.

Documentation for March through May show officer Weaver used about 285 gallons on the job, costing $479.13. In the same time period, Mayor Griffin used more than 613 gallons, costing taxpayers $1,072.99.

“If he’s using an excess of more than police cars, which are pretty much running 24 hours a day, then yes that would prompt an investigation,” Weaver said.

Weaver also wondered about the mayor filling up personal cars.

“There’s an unmarked Crown Vic readily available that’s parked in front of an address that he supposedly lives at and it’s probably parked there right now,” he said.

Fox 2 found that car day after day, unmoved from an address listed as Mayor Griffin's mom’s house. It’s the address he listed when he ran for office.

Fox 2’s Chris Hayes caught up with Mayor Griffin, who said, “Whatever car I’m going to use to do my city business in, then I’m going to put gas in that car.”

When confronted with the facts that the vehicle in question doesn’t hold 19 gallons gas, the mayor responded, “That’s the truck, you’re a pretty smart guy.”

Griffin admitted he sometimes fills up his wife’s truck, but only when he’s going to use it.

“I use the truck to do city business as well. Whichever car that is available for me. Whether my wife uses one car, I use the other,” Griffin said.

What of the appearance that Griffin and his wife are both filling up their vehicles on the public dime?

“And that’s the thing,” Griffin said, “if you have a wife, you understand, if she wants to drive the vehicle, I’m not arguing with her.”

The records show he gassed it up repeatedly. Seventeen different times he filled up with more than 19 gallons of gas. During the same time period, Fox 2 found only five times when a police officer filled up with that much gas.

“It’s definitely justified because I do city business all day every day,” Griffin said. “That’s the only time I’m driving my car is when I’m doing city business.”

But is Mayor Griffin doing that much city business? Some might find it hard to believe that he could be using more gas than even the most active police car.

“Oh I’m doing a lot of city business,” Griffin said. “I can’t say what the police is doing, but I know what I’m doing.”

Mayor Griffin believes Wellston residents will see the proof in how often they see him in the community.

Fox Files will follow up to see if police investigate the matter.

Follow Chris Hayes @ChrisHayesTV