Ex-St. Louis detective sentenced in towing scandal

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A former St. Louis detective was sentenced Wednesday to more than two years in prison for taking bribes as part of a scandal involving towed vehicles.

U.S. District Judge Rodney Sippel handed down the 27-month sentence for Kevin Shade, 36. He pleaded guilty in August 2009 to mail fraud.

Shade acknowledged passing vehicles for inspection despite flaws in exchange for cash payments from an employee of S&H Parking Systems.

Shade became the fourth person this month to be sentenced in connection with allegations against S&H Parking Systems. U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan said no additional criminal charges are anticipated. Shade was the only police officer charged in a case, which stained the reputation of the St. Louis Police Department.

Callahan said most officers in the department “are honorable human beings who deserve our respect and gratitude for the job they do. The acts of a few bad officers should not tarnish an entire department.”

In a statement, St. Louis police said the department did not launch its own investigation at the request of federal authorities, who didn’t want the local investigation to interfere. The department is asking for all investigative materials from federal authorities and will review them to determine if internal discipline or criminal charges should be pursued.

“When those sworn to uphold the law are accused of breaking it, it goes directly against everything this police department believes in,” Police Chief Dan Isom said. “Since becoming chief, I believe I’ve sent a strong message that dishonest and unethical behavior will not be tolerated.”

Earlier this month, the brothers who own S&H, William and Kenneth Bialczak, were each sentenced to one year and one day in prison for failing to report income of about $1 million. Last week, Gregory Shepard was sentenced to 10 months in prison. He was a manager for St. Louis Metropolitan Towing, which is part of S&H.

Until 2008, S&H Parking Systems and its affiliate companies, St. Louis Metropolitan Towing and Parks Auto Sales, had a contract with police. The contract called for St. Louis Metropolitan Towing to tow vehicles designated by the department, and gave Park Auto Sales the right to obtain titles and sell any unclaimed vehicles.

Allegations of wrongdoing began after it was revealed in July 2008 that the towing company allowed officers, and former Chief Joe Mokwa’s daughter, to borrow the seized vehicles. Mokwa has since retired.

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