St. Louis Area Official Pleads Guilty to Taking Bribes from Insurance Broker

October 26, 2006

The city manager of the St. Louis suburb of Berkeley pleaded guilty Tuesday to federal bribery and mail fraud for taking bribes from an insurance broker, U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway said.

Former Berkeley City Manager Joseph King, 38, of Florissant, admitted to taking more than $30,000 in bribes to secure an insurance brokerage contract.

King pleaded guilty Tuesday to one felony count of bribery and one felony count of mail fraud.

The indictment alleged that King took a $5,000 cash payment and an additional $25,000 in bribes in 2003 for awarding contracts for property and casualty insurance and workers’ compensation insurance.

“Corruption among our public officials simply cannot be allowed,” Hanaway said in a statement. “The taxpaying public deserves honesty from their elected and duly appointed officials.”

King started serving as city manager in 2002 in the community of about 10,000 residents in north St. Louis County.

A broker for Associated Insurance Group allegedly paid off King through inflated invoices.

When the City of Berkeley paid invoices, the agent would pay King with the excess, according to court documents. The independent broker has not been charged.

King faces up to 20 years in prison and more than $250,000 in fines when he is sentenced Jan. 12.

Berkeley Mayor Kyra Watson did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment. The city manager position is currently vacant according to the city’s Web site.

Both King and St. Peters Mayor Shawn Brown were indicted at the same time in August for separate federal bribery charges.

Brown resigned after admitting in federal court last week that he solicited a bribe to buy a speeding enforcement system for the St. Louis suburb.

Brown could face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine at sentencing Jan. 11

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