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Tuesday, June 18, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Former Prosecutor Pleads Guilty to Misprision

ST. LOUIS (CN) - A former St. Louis prosecutor admitted that she helped cover up a police officer's assault on a handcuffed suspect, during which the officer shoved a pistol down the man's throat.

Bliss Worrell, 28, pleaded guilty in Federal Court on Monday to a felony charge of misprision of a felony, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Misprision involves helping someone cover up a crime.

The Clayton, Mo., resident admitted to failing to tell a judge and supervisors what she knew of the incident. She also admitted to helping file a false charge against the suspect.

According to the plea agreement, Worrell first heard about the assault July 22, 2014, the night that it happened. Worrell discussed the assault with colleagues the next day. The group later texted that they regretted discussing the matter within earshot of another prosecutor who would not cover for the officer.

The plea doesn't name the officer, but officials said Worrell had a close relationship with him. The plea says the officer told Worrell and colleagues that he threw the arrestee against a wall, beat him, threw a chair at him, and shoved his pistol down the man's throat. It also says Worrell helped a novice prosecutor file charges against the suspect for resisting arrest.

The events detailed in the plea agreement mirror the reason Worrell and colleague Katherine Dierdorf left the circuit attorney's office last year. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Worrell and Dierdorf were asked to resign amid allegations that detective Thomas Carroll assaulted a suspect named Michael Waller.

Waller had been arrested by another officer and was accused of using Carroll's daughter's credit card, which had been taken during a vehicle break-in.

On July 27, prosecutors dismissed the escape charge and Worrell and Dierdorf resigned, according to the Post-Dispatch. Carroll, a 25-year police veteran, was suspended and eventually resigned.

Worrell's misprision charge carries up to three years in prison, but prosecutors and Worrell agreed to recommend 18 months on probation, the newspaper reported.

Circuit attorney Jennifer Joyce told the Post-Dispatch that the incident was the worst thing that has happened to her in her 20 years as a prosecutor. Joyce told the paper that some colleagues who were aware of Worrell's actions and did not act appropriately have left the office.

Worrell is the daughter-in-law of former Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals baseball pitcher Todd Worrell. Dierdorf is the daughter of former St. Louis Cardinals football player and sportscaster Dan Dierdorf, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1996. Dierdorf retired as an NFL analyst last year.

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