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Prominent St. Louis Developer Accused of Fraud
A decade ago, prominent St. Louis developer Paul McKee was instrumental in crafting a Missouri state program offering tax credits for purchasing distressed lands—a program he utilized heavily, earning about $40 million as he amassed 500 acres for his failed plan to revitalize north St. Louis. Now, city officials allege that, at least twice, the developer conspired with former mayoral candidate Jim Osher to inflate property values and falsely claim tax breaks under that same program.
According to the city, it worked like this: McKee agreed to buy property from Osher for significantly over market value. But though the sales were recorded, the money never changed hands. Instead, McKee gave Osher a share of the tax credits triggered by the sham transaction. Then the parties "unwound" the sales so that the properties could remain in Osher's possession.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the scheme came to light when Osher himself brought one of the transactions to bear in a dispute with the city. Writer Jacob Barker unravels the story.