CLAYTON — A St. Louis County Health Department official used an alias and bogus invoices to collect $3.4 million from the county during a six-year scheme that ended with his suicide last month, according to a newspaper report.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that emails obtained under the Sunshine Law show that county financial officers ignored red flags pointing to 39-year-old Edward Mueth.
Also, an independent audit delivered to the St. Louis County Council on Thursday revealed that contract limits with Mueth had been exceeded. For example, $709,000 was paid to Mueth's company, Gateway Technical Solutions, in 2012, far exceeding the value of a three-year, $248,000 contract signed in 2011.
It isn't clear what goods and services the county received for the $3.4 million Mueth was paid. The Post-Dispatch said that in many instances the county approved the purchase or lease of laptop computers at prices that far exceeded the cost of the same equipment at retail outlets.
County Executive Charlie Dooley said he concurs with the audit's conclusions. He expects the county's losses to be covered by insurance.
"Something failed in the system, and we're going to correct that," he said.
Mueth was a division manager for administrative services. He was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot on Sept. 19. A day earlier, county officials said a problem with Gateway Technical invoices became evident during preparation of the 2014 health department budget.
In many cases, the signatures of county officials are on the same page as the signature of David Neff, identified as the owner of Gateway Technical Solutions. State records show Mueth registered David Neff as a fictitious name.
"It was inside job. He knew the system and he took advantage of it," Dooley said.
Mueth earned an annual salary of $86,000. He purchased a $1.4 million home in Webster Groves in 2010.
County police are investigating the Health Department's contract with Mueth.