Federal subpoenas sent to St. Louis agency handling tax cut | Law and order

ST. LOUIS — Federal investigators have subpoenaed records from the St. Louis Development Corp., the city agency that administers tax abatements and other development incentives, the Post-Dispatch has learned.

Several Justice Department subpoenas have been issued to SLDC-run agencies, a person familiar with the matter said on Friday.

The dates and what exactly federal investigators expected from the SLDC are unclear.

But the revelation that authorities are digging into the records of the city’s development branch comes a day after former Alderman John Collins-Muhammad abruptly resigned from his seat. He gave few explanations but asked forgiveness for “my shortcomings and my errors.” A person familiar with the matter said he was being investigated for corruption.

Among the agencies operated by the SLDC is the St. Louis Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority, which processes property tax abatement applications for new construction projects.

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Landlords who want a tax abatement must also get approval from the Board of Aldermen, and city tradition requires that aldermen who represent the ward where the project is located sponsor the bill.

Collins-Muhammad, who represented the 21st Ward, an economically depressed North Side area between O’Fallon Park and Fairground Park, didn’t have many individual reduction bills compared to other neighborhoods with more building activity .

A tax reduction bill he sponsored last year was for a gas station and convenience store project on Von Phul Street. The property belongs to a company linked to Mohammed Almuttan, who was one of 35 people swept away in a sting of cigarette and synthetic marijuana trafficking in 2017.

In 2020, SLDC staff recommended approval of the tax abatement. Collins-Muhammad sponsored a bill for reduction but never brought it to a final vote.

In 2021, he again sponsored a bill for gas station reductions. He held it in committee, saying he would pursue a larger area of ​​redevelopment covering much of his neighborhood. However, for the service station project to benefit from a tax allowance, a corresponding invoice would still have to be issued.

Last month, the government decided to dismiss most of the charges against Almuttan, which were still pending from the 2017 sting. His lawyer did not respond to a request for comment.

Collins-Muhammad did not respond to a request for comment on Friday.

An official with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in St. Louis declined to comment.

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