A former Pine Lawn police lieutenant was arrested on Tuesday by the FBI for conspiring to falsely arrest their former mayor’s competition in the 2013 mayoral race.
Steven Blakeney, 34, is facing up to 20 years in prison for his role in a scheme to sabotage the opponent of the mayor of the small Missouri town in St. Louis County.
During the corruption trial of former Mayor Sylvestor Caldwell in April, a local food market manager testified that he had helped frame Nakisha Ford, Caldwell’s competitor, under the direction of Blakeney.
The manager of the store, Akram Samed, testified that the former lieutenant instructed him to call 911 and report that they caught Ford removing competing campaign posters. He testified that he participated in the conspiracy as he was afraid of repercussions from the mayor if he refused.
The indictment states that Blakeney and other officers arrived, “placed her under arrest and transported her to the Pine Lawn police station, where television news outlets were waiting.”
Former Pine Lawn Mayor Adrian Wright, 80, also sued the city claiming that he was targeted for arrest after voicing criticism of Caldwell and forced to do a perp walk in front of all the cameras, before the charges were dropped. He alleges that it was all orchestrated as a smear campaign against him.
Caldwell pleaded guilty and resigned as mayor of the town as part of his plea deal. He also was sentenced to almost three years in prison.
In December, Blakeney was fired after allegations that he called an officer friend to come pick up two drunk girls he had met at the bar and give them rides home. The women wrote sworn statements asserting that they woke up in Blakeney’s home with no memory of how they got there, CBS reported.
The former officer maintains that the allegations were lies and that he was actually fired for cooperating with the FBI investigation. He subsequently attempted to sue the department for 5 million dollars, claiming he was wrongfully terminated.
Blakeney is charged with conspiracy against rights, deprivation of rights under color of law and falsification of records. Pine Lawn, which has a population of 3,216, issued 17,155 traffic citations in 2013, according to Radley Balko’s 2014 investigative piece in the Washington Post, “How municipalities in St. Louis County, Mo., profit from poverty.”