By Carolyn Tuft Of The Post-Dispatch
St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)
St. Louis Parks Director Gary Bess fired on Tuesday the recreation commissioner who first alerted Mayor Freeman Bosley Jr. that about $120,000 was missing from the Midnite Basketball program.
Recreation Commissioner Evelyn Rice-Peebles learned she was fired Tuesday afternoon. "I have done nothing wrong and I will pursue all legal rights available to me to remedy this injustice," Rice-Peebles said. She filed an appeal to the civil service commission Tuesday afternoon.
Midnite Basketball is a recreational program that tries to deter young men and women from crime. The investigation of the program has centered on forged checks that were allegedly written by employees on the Midnite Basketball accounts and cashed. Bess said that of the seven Midnite Basketball employees he investigated for their part in the missing funds, four were fired, two were reassigned and one, Anthony Shahid, was returned to his former job as a gang specialist working with the program. Bess declined to provide any more details. "We will now be trying to pick up the pieces of this and move the program forward," Bess said. Mayor Freeman Bosley Jr. said in a prepared statement announcing the employee shakeup that he supported the firing of the four workers. "I am certainly disappointed that these employees chose to betray our children and me, but my goal from the very beginning was to fix the problem, not the blame," Bosley said. Rice-Peebles said she believed Bosley was using her as "a political pawn" in his re-election effort. She has asserted that she was the person who blew the whistle on the missing funds. Both Rice-Peebles and Bosley have said that the recreation director met with the mayor in mid-August to give him information that showed how funds were missing from the program's account. …