Crooked Missouri Mayor|Is Going to Prison

ST. LOUIS (CN) – The former mayor of a St. Louis suburb was sentenced Monday to 33 months in federal prison for extortion.
     Sylvester Caldwell, 55, of Florissant, pleaded guilty in April to attempted extortion and extortion.
     Caldwell was mayor of Pine Lawn, which is 7 miles northwest of St. Louis and 5 miles south of Ferguson.
     Pine Lawn’s population of 3,261 is 95.8 percent black and its median household income of $26,477 in 2012 was only 58 percent of the statewide median of $45,321, according to city-data.com.
     Caldwell took cash from the owner of a towing company at least five times, for the company to keep its post as city’s primary towing service, prosecutors said.
     He also shook down the owner of a convenience store, court documents state, and disguised the payments as donations to the city. The owner paid Caldwell out of fear he would make trouble for the store and also allowed Caldwell to take goods for free, also for fear of retaliation.
     Caldwell’s regime has been the subject of several recent lawsuits that allege a pattern of corruption against the former mayor.
     In February a former Pine Lawn police officer claimed Caldwell had him fired for participating in an FBI investigation of the mayor.
     In April, an 80-year-old political foe claimed Caldwell had him arrested and publicly humiliated him in retaliation for opposing the mayor.
     In May, Pine Lawn’s former police chief claimed he was fired for reporting corruption in the mayor’s office.
     On Monday, U.S. District Judge Catherine D. Perry also ordered Caldwell to pay $5,500 in restitution.

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