ST. LOUIS (CN) - A former police lieutenant for a St. Louis suburb was convicted Thursday of criminal charges stemming from his arrest of a mayoral candidate in 2013.
A federal jury convicted Steven Blakeney, 35, of all three counts after a four-day trial: a felony count of conspiracy against rights, deprivation of rights under color of law, and falsification of records.
He faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each charge at his May 4 sentencing.
As a lieutenant for the Pine Lawn Police Department, Blakeney ordered a businessman to report falsely that a mayoral candidate had stolen a campaign poster from his store, and then arranged for the candidate to be arrested.
The April 2015 corruption trial of former Pine Lawn Mayor Sylvester Caldwell shed some light on the allegations. Akram Samad testified at trial that Blakeney made him help frame Nakisha Ford, Caldwell's 2013 opponent for mayor.
Samad said Blakeney told him to call 911 to claim falsely that Ford had stolen one of Caldwell's campaign signs displayed inside his store.
Blakeney went to the store to take the report, which led to Ford's arrest, Samad said.
Caldwell won re-election. He pleaded guilty to extortion and attempted extortion in April 2015 and resigned, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Pine Lawn fired Blakeney in December 2014 amid allegations that he called another police officer to provide taxi service for two women he met at a bar.
Blakeney then sued KTVI-TV in St. Louis and a news anchor, claiming they defamed him in a report on his firing. That case is pending in St. Louis County Circuit Court.
Pine Lawn is 7 miles northwest of St. Louis and 5 miles south of Ferguson. Its population of 3,261 is 95.8 percent black and its median household income of $26,477 in 2012 was 58 percent of the statewide median of $45,321, according to city-data.com.
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