Town Near Ferguson|Looks Legally Bedeviled


     ST. LOUIS (CN) – A federal grand jury indicted a former Missouri police officer in a small town near Ferguson on charges of conspiring with the now-imprisoned former mayor to arrest a political foe.
     Former Pine Lawn police Lt. Steven Blackeney had sued the city in January, claiming he was fired for blowing the whistle in an FBI investigation of Mayor Sylvester Caldwell.
     Caldwell was sentenced in July to 33 months in federal prison for extortion.
     The grand jury last week charged Blackeney with one count each of conspiracy against rights, deprivation of rights under color of law and falsification of records. If convicted of all charges, he could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison.
     Blackeney, 34, was arrested Tuesday and the indictment was unsealed.
     According to the indictment, Blackeney conspired to falsely arrest a candidate running against Mayor Caldwell on March 31, 2013. Blackeney then ordered another person to falsely report that the candidate had stolen a campaign poster from a business, according to the indictment.
     Blackeney was fired in December 2014 amid allegations that he’d ordered a fellow officer to act as a taxi service for two women Blackeney had taken home from a bar.
     In May, Blackeney sued KTVI-TV and reporter Chris Hayes, claiming they defamed him in a series of reports on his actions as a Pine Lawn police officer.
     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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