More Corruption Claims|in Missouri Town

     CLAYTON, Mo. (CN) – Pine Lawn, Mo.’s former police chief added to the city’s legal woes, claiming he was fired for reporting corruption in the mayor’s office.
     Rickey Collins sued Pine Lawn in St. Louis County Court on May 7. Collins claims he was fired after providing the FBI information about illegal activities by Pine Lawn’s elected officials.
     He claims that the information included:
     – Identification of people, including Mayor Sylvester Caldwell, involved in an extortion scheme;
     – That the mayor had political adversaries arrested on municipal charges;
     – That the mayor had on-duty police officers stationed overnight in squad cars to watch his D.J. equipment;
     – That the mayor had on-duty police officers act as his personal bodyguards outside of Pine Lawn’s jurisdiction;
     – That the mayor took items out of Pine Lawn stores without paying for them, saying they would be added to his tab;
     – That the mayor kept records of the number of tickets written by Pine Lawn police officers and requested that officers who did not meet their quota be fired;
     – and that the mayor often inflated Pine Lawn checks to receive a kickback.
     Collins claims that after he reported this to Pine Lawn’s elected officials, the city offered him six months’ severance if he would sign a release of rights to seek further action against Pine Lawn, an offer he refused.
     He claims that a board meeting to discuss his employment was held despite his objections to violations of Missouri Sunshine Law, and that he never received anything in writing stating what he did wrong.
     Collins’ lawsuit contains many of the same allegations as a complaint filed by former Assistant Police Chief Steve Blackeney in February.
     Pine Lawn was also sued in April by a political adversary of Caldwell’s, who claimed he was arrested for opposing the mayor.
     In October, a federal grand jury indicted Caldwell on extortion charges. In April, Caldwell interrupted the trial to plead guilty to extortion and attempted extortion. He agreed to resign as mayor immediately as a condition for remaining at liberty until his July 7 sentencing.
     Collins, like Blackeney, is represented by Michael J. Brunton of Collinsville, Ill.
     Pine Lawn, pop. 3,261, is a suburb of St. Louis.

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