St. Louis, MO –Larry Arnowitz, 66, of St. Louis, Missouri, was indicted by a federal grand jury on one count of mail fraud related to his illegal use of campaign funds for his personal use and expenses.
According to the Indictment, Arnowitz serves as the Alderman for the 12th Ward of the City of St. Louis, having first been elected during 2011. Arnowitz maintains his political campaign account under the name “Friends of Larry Arnowitz.” Numerous individuals and organizations have contributed to the Friends of Larry Arnowitz based upon representations that their political donations would be properly and legally used for campaign and reelection purposes. From June, 2015 through February, 2019, Arnowitz instead used donated campaign funds for personal expenses, unrelated to any legitimate campaign or reelection purpose. Arnowitz used funds from the Friends of Larry Arnowitz campaign account to make payments towards his personal residential mortgage and for other personal expenses, and he made substantial cash withdrawals from the account for his own personal use and expenses. In order to conceal his fraud, Arnowitz filed false reports with the Missouri Ethics Commission, which reports failed to identify the many cash withdrawals from the Friends of Larry Arnowitz campaign account, and which failed to identify payments made directly from the Friends of Larry Arnowitz campaign account which were made for his own personal use, unrelated to any campaign or reelection purpose. As one example, on February 13, 2019, Arnowitz withdrew $5,000 from his Friends of Larry Arnowitz campaign account in the form of a cashier’s check, which he then mailed to Ocwen Financial Services in partial payment of his personal residential mortgage. United States Attorney Jeff Jensen stated, “Alderman Arnowitz abused the trust of many individuals and organizations that contributed to his political campaign fund for several years. This type of corruption by our elected officials will not be tolerated, and federal law enforcement will continue to investigate and prosecute these types of criminal schemes in order to insure the integrity of our political processes.” “Rooting out public corruption is a top priority for the FBI because of the abuse of public trust,” said Special Agent in Charge Richard Quinn of the FBI St. Louis Division. “When citizens donate money to an election campaign, they are supporting a candidate to represent them, not to pay for their personal expenses.”
If convicted, Arnowitz faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Restitution is also mandatory. In determining the actual sentence, a judge is required to consider the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide recommended sentencing ranges.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating this case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Hal Goldsmith is handling the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.