ST. LOUIS (CN) – A former Missouri governor pleaded guilty Thursday to misappropriating $5,000, less than 24 hours after he was indicted for allegedly laundering campaign contributions to the Democratic Party.
Prosecutors indicted former Gov. Roger B. Wilson, 63, of Columbia, Mo., late Wednesday, alongside attorney Edward J. Griesedieck III, 53, of St. Louis.
Wilson and Griesedieck, a former partner at Herzog Crebs, were each charged with a federal misdemeanor of insurance crimes affecting interstate commerce.
State campaign finance records show that the Missouri Democratic State Committee received contributions of $5,000 on Aug. 28, 2009, and $3,000 on Dec, 22, 2009, from the Herzog Crebs law firm in St. Louis. But prosecutors say the money actually came from Wilson and a state-created workers’ compensation company – Missouri Employers Mutual Insurance Co.
Missouri Employers board member Doug Morgan directed the payments, which Wilson approved and came from Griesedieck’s account, according to the indictment.
Morgan does not face charges.
Prosecutors say Herzog recouped the $5,000 contribution by billing Missouri Employers for legal work, and Wilson eventually wrote a personal check to cover the $3,000 contribution. The other Missouri Employers board members did not know about the contribution.
Wilson entered his plea in an unscheduled appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mary Ann Medler late Thursday. He faces sentencing of up to one year in prison on July 9, 2012. He could also face a fine of up to $100,000.
The charge against Griesedieck also carries a year, but both men are expected to receive probation and a possible fine.
Wilson was the former CEO of Missouri Employers, before being ousted in June 2011. Known as a straight-shooter when in political office, Wilson has been quiet about losing his office. Two other former Missouri Employers board members were indicted separately last year for alleged theft and fraud from other organizations and Morgan resigned as Missouri Employers chairman in May. Missouri Employers was founded by the state Legislature in 1993 to aid a crisis in the state’s insurance industry, when many small businesses could not afford workers’ compensation insurance.
Wilson was elected state auditor in 1992 and was elected lieutenant governor in 1996. In 2000, as he was nearing the end of his term, he spent three months as governor after Gov. Mel Carnahan was killed in a plane crash. He served as the Missouri Democratic Party chairman from 2004 to 2007, and the county government building in Columbia is named after him.
Griesedieck’s profile has been removed from the Herzog website. A Post-Dispatch reporter was told he is no longer with the firm. Griesedieck is also a former city and prosecuting attorney for several St. Louis County communities and hosted the “Ask the Attorney” show on KMOX radio for 20 years.