Board of Aldermen Candidate Alleges Wrongdoing, Calls for Investigation of Missouri State Trooper (Part 2)
In Part 1 of this story, I shared two videos -- here and here -- as well as a description of events related to a Missouri State Highway Patrol trooper's late-night Feb. 15, 2006 visit to the St. Peters, Mo., home of 85-year-old Dolores Sherman. Below, I pick up the story of my investigation.
After speaking with Sherman March 9, I contacted the Missouri Gaming Commission’s headquarters in Jefferson City, Mo., with several questions, trying to find answers as to why a trooper, who said he worked for the commission, visited her home:
1. Is it normal for an MGC officer, in uniform, to visit the residence of an 80-year-old citizen at 8:15 p.m. to ask questions about her driving record, about her medical condition and for the name of her personal physician(s)?
2. Under what circumstances might an MGC officer’s visit to a citizen’s private residence be warranted?
3. Must MGC provide a citizen any form of notice in advance of such a visit? If so, please describe.
4. Does your agency have any record, report or other file related to any visit by an MGC officer to Mrs. Sherman’s home Feb. 15, 2006? If "yes," are you willing to produce such a file or, at a minimum, disclose (a) the name of the officer who visited Mrs. Sherman’s home and (b) the circumstances that warranted that officer paying a visit to Mrs. Sherman’s home?
Upon receiving my questions via e-mail, gaming commission spokesperson LeAnn McCarthy referred me to Missouri State Highway Patrol General Counsel, Andrew Briscoe. The agency’s “official” response, however, was provided by Lt. John Hotz, a spokesperson for MSHP’s Public Information and Education Division (MSHP PIED):
I believe these questions have previously been addressed via Ms. Sherman’s contact with law enforcement personnel. If you are making a sunshine request as a member of the media, you will need to make a formal request through our custodian of records. Her name is Lieutenant Keverne McCullom and her number is....
At this point, I had two options: I could submit a Sunshine Law request to MSHP in an effort to obtain any reports, records or files they have on Sherman; or I could contact Sherman and request copies of her Sunshine Law-related correspondence with MSHP. I chose the second option, suspecting I could get the information from Sherman more quickly and at a lower cost than that the state might charge.
At approximately 7 p.m., March 10, 2011, I visited Sherman’s home and she gave me copies of her correspondence with MSHP — evidence of more than a dozen unsuccessful attempts she had made via e-mail and stamped mail to obtain any record, report or file that might offer justification for a highway patrol or gaming commission trooper visiting her home hours after 8 o'clock in the evening Feb. 15, 2006.
The fact that her attempts were unsuccessful leads me to conclude that either the trooper’s visit was indeed part of some state government-level conspiracy to impugn the reputation of Sherman or the trooper was acting in a rogue manner by doing a favor for someone on the local scene who wanted Sherman to keep quiet about what had happened to her with their approval, tacit or otherwise. For several reasons, I suspect -- and hope -- it was the latter, but would welcome reader input.
In addition to copies of her correspondence with MSHP, Sherman provided me other information:
First, Sherman gave me a copy of the audiotape recording of her face-to-face conversation with the trooper -- the same one who left the aforementioned and previously-described business card -- insider her home that night just over five years ago. When I listened to the recording (on a cassette tape), I found it substantiated nearly everything she described about the trooper’s visit to her home. Only the events that took place before the trooper entered the house and while the trooper was in the garage were not recorded.
Second, Sherman shared a stack of information about her contentious relationship with City of St. Peters officials which, she said, stemmed from similarly difficult relations with her neighbors -- both in and out of court -- that, by themselves, would make for a lengthy series of posts. But I digress.
Third, Sherman allowed me to photograph the actual business card -- a four-color card, no less -- which she said the trooper had given her.
Fourth, Sherman showed me a copy of her driving record, a copy of which she obtained from the License Bureau at 2495 Raymond Drive in St. Charles, Mo., Sept. 1, 2010.
Is there more to the story? Sherman thinks there is, and I agree. Because she covered much of it in her April 22, 2010, appearance before the Board of Aldermen, I won’t rehash it in this space. There’s simply not enough time in the day. Instead, I'll close by focusing on several aspects of this case that seem indisputable, but about which the world may never know the complete truth:
(1) A Missouri State Highway Patrol trooper, who works at least part-time for the Missouri Gaming Commission at St. Louis-area casino, visited Sherman's home the night of Feb. 15, 2006, on the premise that he was investigating her driving record, and he left his business card;
(2) The Missouri State Highway Patrol denies having any record, report or file related to a trooper visiting Sherman’s home Feb. 15, 2006, or any reason why it would be appropriate or necessary for a trooper to make such a visit;
(3) Sherman’s relationship with officials at the City of St. Peters was, and remains today, extremely contentious;
(4) Someone -- perhaps, several someones -- is not telling the whole truth about the case, and I don’t get the feeling Sherman is lying; and
(5) Sherman, a widow, mother of two and grandmother of two, seems to believe winning a seat on the St. Peters Board of Aldermen will put her one step closer to finding answers.