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St. Louis police pension board removes trustee for online posts, lobbying

St. Louis police pension board removes trustee for online posts, lobbying

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UPDATED at 3:40 p.m. Wednesday with a response from Gary Wiegert.

ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis police pension board on Wednesday officially removed one of its elected members for violations of board rules that trustees say included unauthorized lobbying and improper online posts.

Gary Wiegert, a retired St. Louis police sergeant and former president of the St. Louis police union, was suspended July 1 before being removed from his role as board trustee by unanimous vote of the Police Retirement System of St. Louis pension board.

Attorney Neil Bruntrager was retained by the board to present the misconduct findings at a hearing earlier this month and argued Wiegert violated the trustees’ fiduciary duties.

The fund manages about $870 million in assets and supports more than 1,800 retired or disabled police officers and their families. The retirement system received about $33 million in city funds in fiscal year 2020, according to city budget records.

Board trustees voted Wednesday to hold a new election to fill Wiegert’s spot and barred him from running for a board position for the next five years.

The allegations against Wiegert include:

• That he “fabricated” accusations of fraud on the board “which he knows to be false and distorted.” Bruntrager argued Wiegert refused to bring the claims through the board’s established complaint process to be investigated.

• Posting and spreading confidential information online, including details of plans to sell retirement system real estate.

• Lobbying members of the state Legislature on board issues without approval and in conflict with the pension system’s lobbyists.

Wiegert also is accused of violating board impartiality rules by posting on Facebook that he wouldn’t support disability claims related to COVID-19 or post-traumatic stress disorder from COVID-19 after Missouri Gov. Mike Parson last year signed an executive order ensuring that first responders, including police, get benefits for injuries related to the virus.

Wiegert posted in December that no officer had yet applied for a COVID-related claim but to grant one would be “INSANE.”

“We are opening up Pandora’s box and this has the capability of destroying our pension,” he wrote.

Wiegert said in a statement to the Post-Dispatch on Wednesday that he believes the board kicked him off because he called out corruption, including accusations he’s made of phony COVID-19 disability claims.

“That is why I was removed and the votes of 433 retired members will be nullified,” Wiegert said. “Fiscal responsibility loses and corruption wins.”

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