The police chief in Bel-Nor has resigned amid questions into what he did with money from a Munchkin.
The former is Matthew Lauer, 38, longtime top cop in the north St. Louis County village, who says he's simply moving on to something else. He stepped down Oct. 10.
The latter is Mickey Carroll, 89, one of a handful of the surviving diminutive denizens of Munchkinland from the 1939 MGM classic "The Wizard of Oz." His caretaker says the chief took advantage of him.
Carroll has lived in Bel-Nor for nearly seven decades. Carroll's caretaker, Linda Dodge, said the actor often gave Lauer money at the chief's request, believing he was supporting the police by buying gear.
Dodge said that earlier this year she looked at Carroll's financial records — including at least one check made out to Lauer — and questioned where the money was going.
Dodge took her concerns to Village Chairman Kevin Buchek, who referred the case to the Missouri State Highway Patrol. The case remains under investigation, said a patrol spokeswoman.
In June, Carroll sought a restraining order against Lauer, claiming the chief had pocketed a $2,000 donation intended for the village. Carroll claimed Lauer then threatened him, in phone calls and visits to his home, to change his story to make it appear as if the donation had been a gift. Lauer returned the money.
I grew up in Bel-Nor, and Mickey Carroll has always been a treasure in the village. Bel-Nor even had a celebration a number of years ago where a "yellow brick road" (actually a line of yellow paint) led to Mickey's front door. So, it is sad for me to see that good relationship tarnished.
I'm also sad to see the Bel-Nor police department tarnished. Yes, they could be a terror if you went six miles or more over the speed limit on Natural Bridge Road, but they were mostly approachable and friendly guys. The full sized Hershey bars with almonds they used to hand out every Halloween were legendary. (If you played your cards right, and had a costume that wasn't too distinctive, it was possible to snag four or five of the things over the course of the night. Sweet!)
Mostly, I'm amazed at the chutzpah of the police chief. Lord knows, I wouldn't want to cross the Lollipop Guild.