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Joshua Voyles

Fenton Mayor Joshua Voyles

FENTON • After several residents called for Mayor Joshua Voyles to resign Thursday night for allegedly misleading police investigating a hit-and-run he later admitted to, the Board of Aldermen voted down three attempts to take action against him.

Voyles, 37, drove home after hitting a truck parked at a nearby home Dec. 16 but told responding officers that he had been drinking at a bar and that a friend had brought him home and another friend drove home his vehicle, according to a St. Louis County police report. Voyles’ car had damage, his breath smelled of alcohol and his speech was slurred, the report said.

Because Voyles was inside his house, and not behind the wheel, the officer didn’t test his blood-alcohol level.

Voyles confessed days later. He was not charged in the incident after the owner of the truck told police he would not pursue prosecution if his truck were repaired. Police closed the case after confirming with Voyles’ insurance company on Jan. 17 that the truck was undergoing about $5,100 in repairs.

Voyles apologized Thursday before a nearly packed house after saying he didn’t believe the issue should be on the agenda because it’s “a personal matter.”

“First off, I did make a mistake and I truly am sorry,” he said. “I have owned up to it, I have accepted responsibility, and I’m working hard to make it right.”

Five people at the meeting spoke and called on Voyles to resign, to applause from most of the people in the council chambers.

“When a mayor is willing to lie to the police, he is most certainly willing to lie to the public,” said Scott Maserang, 46.

Dan Hagen, 65, disputed Voyles’ claim that it was a personal matter.

“For this as a top public elected official in the city of Fenton, it’s more than personal,” he said. “You have an image to maintain for the city.”

During a lengthy board discussion, Alderman Bob Brasses, who is challenging Voyles in the April 2 mayoral election, motioned three times for the board to take some type of action against Voyles.

Brasses, who had requested the matter be placed on the agenda , first asked to open an impeachment process by hiring an independent prosecutor to investigate the incident. Then he moved to ask the St. Louis County prosecuting attorney to re-examine the case, and then he asked that the board officially request that Voyles apologize in writing to residents and in-person to police.

All three motions were seconded by Alderman Joe Maurath, but he and Brasses were outvoted 7-2 each time.

“I just don’t think it’s fair for anybody to have a situation like this to just walk away from it and say ‘Well, I paid some money’,” Maurath said before the final vote, to request Voyles issue a formal apology. “There was a hit-and-run. There was lying. There was an attempt to circumvent the law.”

But Alderman Paul Seemayer said it was up to Voyles to apologize.

“This is nothing more than a political ploy for Alderman Brasses’ political campaign,” Seemayer said.

A handful of people walked out after Seemayer’s comment.

“I beg to differ,” said former Alderman Dan Borgard, who had earlier called for Voyles’ resignation. “I’m very embarrassed. I’m embarrassed by all of you.”

Seemayer echoed two residents who had spoken in favor of Voyles. One of them, Gail Preston, also criticized Brasses for placing the incident on the agenda.

“I would encourage all of you not to use city time like this to bolster your campaigns,” Preston said.

She said Voyles had made a big mistake but that she would vote for him again in April because he is “the best choice” to tackle the city’s issues.

According to the St. Louis County police report:

Police questioned Voyles early Dec. 16 after a man called to report that someone had driven off after hitting the rear driver’s side of his Dodge Ram pickup about 1:15 a.m. as it sat in his driveway in the 1200 block of Valiant Drive.

The man followed a tan pickup he saw driving away to Voyles’ house around the corner in the 300 block of Fury Drive, according to a police report. The tan truck was parked there. It had damage on its passenger side wheel well, front bumper and headlight.

Voyles answered the door when a police officer knocked about 1:40 a.m. and said he didn’t know his truck had been damaged, the report said. He told the officer he’d been drinking earlier with friends at a bar, a Hotshots on South Highway Drive in Fenton, and that a friend had driven home. He said another friend named Jack had driven his truck back to his house.

When the officer asked for more details, Voyles said “I really don’t know more than his first name.”

Voyles smelled of alcohol and his speech was slurred and “disorganized,” making it difficult for the officer to get an accurate or detailed statement, the officer wrote in the report.

Because Voyles was inside his house, and not behind the wheel, the officer didn’t test his blood-alcohol level.

Police did not find anything “of value” in surveillance footage form the bar and did find any surveillance footage from neighbors.

Police interviewed Voyles again a few days later, and he told officers a “dude” who he thought was a friend brought his truck home.

He later confessed to the hit-and-run, telling officers he “was scared and nothing like this has happened to him before,” according to the police report. Voyles said he ran into the rear of the Dodge Ram and panicked. He said he “Felt horrible and was sorry for what had happened” and wanted to make things right. Police told him to contact his insurance company.

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Reporter covering breaking news and crime by night. Born in Algeria but grew up in St. Louis. Previously reported for The Associated Press in Jackson, Mississippi and at the Wichita Eagle in Wichita, Kansas.