South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

Former MFPD board candidate indicted in murder-for-hire case

An Oakville man who ran unsuccessfully for the Mehlville Fire Protection District Board of Directors in 2005 has been indicted by a federal grand jury in a murder-for-hire case involving a district firefighter.

Steven A. Mueller, 49, is accused of assisting James K. Kornhardt of Dittmer in the October 1992 murder of Danny H. Coleman of St. Louis, according to the April 30 indictment. Kornhardt, 50, a Mehlville Fire Protection District firefighter since 1992, and Karen K. Coleman, 54, of Arnold were indicted in December by a federal grand jury on charges related to the murder of her husband, Danny Coleman.

Mueller, Kornhardt and Karen Coleman have been indicted on one felony count of conspiracy to commit murder for hire and one felony count of murder for hire. All three have pleaded not guilty and are in federal custody.

In April 2005, Mueller, incumbent Tom O’Driscoll and Aaron Hilmer vied for a seat on the Mehlville Fire Protection District Board of Directors that carried a six-year term.

Before the election, Mueller participated with other MFPD board candidates in a forum co-sponsored by the Lindbergh School District, the League of Women Voters and Call Newspapers. Hilmer was elected to the seat.

Kornhardt was arrested Dec. 12 at Mehlville Fire Protection District Firehouse No. 5 on Mueller Road in Green Park by agents of the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. At the time of his arrest, he was vice president of Mehlville Local 1889 of the International Association of Fire Fighters. His term as vice president ended Dec. 31.

Kornhardt was placed on unpaid administrative leave by the MFPD Board of Directors the day of his arrest. The board’s motion also states that if the charges are dismissed, Kornhardt will be eligible for pay reimbursement.

IAFF 2nd District Vice President Mark Woolbright stated in a Dec. 15 release that Local 1889 supports the board’s decision to place Kornhardt on unpaid leave and added that Kornhardt’s charges “have absolutely nothing to do with” the union.

Court records state, “On Dec. 19, 2008, and while incarcerated, Kornhardt recruited and solicited Mueller to locate and remove a revolver, silencer and box of ammunition from the garage located on Kornhardt’s Dittmer, Mo., property. Mueller agreed. Mueller located and removed the revolver, silencer and box of ammunition on Dec. 19, 2008.

“Later that same date, Mueller traveled to the Jefferson Barracks Bridge, where he disposed of the items.”

The federal indictment alleges Karen Coleman, Kornhardt and Mueller “… did unlawfully, knowingly and intentionally combine, conspire and agree to commit an offense against the United States of America, that is, the crime of murder for hire in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1958, by using and causing another to use the United States mails and other facilities in interstate commerce with the intent that the murder of Danny H. Coleman be committed in violation of the laws of the state of Missouri, as a consideration for the receipt of and consideration for a promise and agreement to pay things of pecuniary value, namely money, along with other benefits. Said conspiracy offense resulted in the death of Danny H. Coleman on Oct. 22, 1992.”

In 1990, Karen Coleman recruited Larry Nolan to arrange the murder of her husband so that she could collect on several insurance policies, the indictment alleges. Nolan, who died in prison in 1997, recruited Kornhardt to commit the murder, according to the indictment.

Karen Coleman agreed to pay Nolan and Kornhardt from the proceeds of the insurance policies, the indictment states.

Court records state, “As part of the conspiracy in or about 1991, Nolan solicited co-conspirator M.A.K. to arrange to have a silencer made for a revolver. Nolan, Kornhardt and M.A.K. agreed that, among other things, Kornhardt would provide and deliver the revolver to be fitted with the silencer along with $1,000 as payment for the silencer. Kornhardt provided the revolver and in or about 1992, the silencer and revolver were delivered to Kornhardt in exchange for the payment.”

But the silencer did not work, according to the indictment, which states that Kornhardt “demanded the return of the $1,000 payment.”

In October 1992, Karen Coleman mailed a letter to Nolan explaining Danny Coleman’s activities, movement, habits and other information so Kornhardt would have knowledge and access to him, according to the indictment.

The indictment states, “It was further part of the conspiracy that in or about October 1992, James K. Kornhardt recruited and solicited Steven A. Mueller to assist in the murder of Danny H. Coleman. Steven A. Mueller agreed to carry out the murder of Danny H. Coleman with James K. Kornhardt.”

On Oct. 22, 1992, Danny Coleman left work at roughly 4 p.m. The indictment alleges, “Danny H. Coleman was later murdered by James K. Kornhardt and Steven A. Mueller. Danny H. Coleman’s body and truck were found burnt in an isolated field located in Franklin County, Mo. James K. Kornhardt discarded a box of matches in the isolated field after setting the fire.”

The indictment states the cause of death was massive blunt force trauma to Danny Coleman’s head and face and his death certificate “noted that most of Danny H. Coleman’s body was consumed by fire.”

After her husband’s death, Karen Coleman began collecting on insurance policies, including claims for loss on Danny Coleman’s truck and claims for proceeds payable upon his death. The indictment states that Karen Coleman collected $11,039 from her husband’s employer and $51,982 from the General American Life Insurance Co.

Karen Coleman agreed to pay Kornhardt and Nolan from the proceeds of the insurance policies, the indictment alleges. Court records also allege that Kornhardt paid Mueller “in excess of $1,000 for his participation in the murder of Danny H. Coleman.”

Furthermore, she collected payment from the Liberty Life Insurance Co. and First Nationwide Mortgage Corp. of the outstanding principal, interest, escrow and insurance paid on their residence on Michigan Avenue in St. Louis city, according to the indictment.

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