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St. Louis parks officials admit to massive fraud

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Two former top St. Louis parks officials face December federal sentencing now that they've admitted stealing nearly half a million dollars from the city since 2005.

Thomas "Dan" Stritzel, the city's 43-year-old chief park ranger, and the deputy parks commissioner, 55-year-old Joseph Vacca, each pleaded guilty to three counts of mail fraud involving the theft of roughly $465,000.

A May indictment alleged that from January 2005 through the end of last year, Stritzel and Vacca used false or inflated invoices to funnel the pilfered city funds through sham companies. Prosecutors say they spent the money on vehicles, paying off credit card debt, and other expenses.

They each face up to 20 years in prison and $250,000 in fines on each count.

Court records show Vacca filed for bankruptcy in 2009.

 

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