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Chuck Berry 1990

Drug unit raids Chuck Berry estates, seizes items

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

June 28 / 1990

Jo Mannies / the Post-Dispatch Staff

Authorities said they seized videotapes, hashish, marijuana, three weapons and $130,000 in a raid Saturday at rock 'n' roll singer Chuck Berry's estate near Wentzville. The raid was conducted at 5 a.m. by members of St. Charles County's Multijurisdictional Enforcement Group, said St. Peters Police Chief Ronald Neubauer, president of the group's oversight board.

The investigation is continuing, but no charges have been filed against Berry, Neubauer said Wednesday night. No information was available on the amounts of the hashish and marijuana reported seized. The raid took place after a search warrant was issued by Associate Circuit Judge William T. Lohmar.

Berry's attorney, Wayne Schoeneberg, said that the affidavit filed by authorities to get the warrant contained several ludicrous allegations against Berry. He said the affidavit alleged that ''huge quantities of cocaine'' would be found at Berry's home. ''Where's the cocaine?'' asked Schoeneberg, referring to the raid. The document also stated that Berry, 63, had $36 million in liquid assets, of which $9 million was obtained through drug sales.

''Where did they come up with that?'' Schoeneberg said. ''This whole thing is a tragedy to me.'' Berry is ''a good businessman,'' Schoeneberg said. ''The affidavit says he has been suspected for some time of transporting cocaine. Why don't they follow him? He's the easiest man in the world to follow. He travels with one suitcase and his guitar. He gets on a plane, does his show, and he comes back.''

Schoeneberg said that the weapons - two .22-caliber rifles and a shotgun - probably belonged to Berry's late father. Berry is a convicted felon and barred from possessing firearms. Schoeneberg said he believed the raid was connected to a suit filed last December by a former cook at Berry's Southern Air Restaurant in Wentzville. The cook alleged that Berry had made videotapes of her and other women as they dressed, undressed and used the toilet.


Woman sue Berry, Charge he took bathroom videos

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

June 30 / 1990

By Marianna Riley / the Post-Dispatch Staff

An undetermined number of women have filed a class-action suit against Chuck Berry, charging that the rock 'n' roll legend made videotapes of them when they were undressing and using bathrooms on his property. The suit charges Berry with invasion of their privacy and intrusion upon their seclusion and privacy.

The names of the plaintiffs in the suit, which was filed Wednesday in St. Charles County Circuit Court, were ordered sealed Thursday by Circuit Judge Lester W. Duggan Jr. On Friday, Duggan said that judicial ethics prevented him from explaining his action. ''The record speaks for itself,'' he said.

The suit was filed by St. Charles lawyer Ronald L. Boggs. In his motion to have the identity of the plaintiffs kept anonymous, he notes that Berry has been convicted of three felonies, including armed robbery, and that his clients fear reprisals. The suit says that the plaintiffs are among some 200 women who were customers and friends of Berry and visitors at his property known as ''Berry Park,'' at 691 Buckner Road in Wentzville, and at his Southern Air restaurant, at 1102 Pitman Avenue in Wentzville. The restaurant has since closed.

The suit alleges that Berry used secretly placed cameras to videotape these women as they undressed, used the toilet, dressing rooms and a bedroom in his home at Berry Park and the restaurant. It says the plaintiffs now possessed the tapes he had made. The suit is the latest in a series of allegations against Berry, whose property near Wentzville was raided Saturday in a search for cocaine and pornographic material. No cocaine was found, but several items were seized, including some substances thought to be marijuana and hashish that are now being analyzed.

In December, Berry was named in a suit filed by Hosana A. Huck, in which she alleges that he had made videotapes of women when they used the restroom at Southern Air. Berry has denied any involvement with drug use or trafficking and says he neither uses drugs nor drinks. Berry has declined to discuss the civil suits, on the advice of his attorney, Wayne T. Schoeneberg.

Schoeneberg declined to comment Friday on the suits' allegations but said he planned to appeal Duggan's ruling.

''This is the craziest thing I've ever heard of,'' Schoeneberg said. ''He entertained a motion by one lawyer to a lawsuit, without any right for Charles Berry to be heard, for his attorney to be present, without any notice to Charles Berry or his attorney,'' Schoeneberg said.

''Has Charles Berry been stripped of all his rights? ''I'm amazed, it seems to be open season on Charles Berry.''


St. Charles Berry's lawyer cites polygraph test

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

July 7 / 1990

Chuck Berry's attorney says that a polygraph test proves that he did not hit anyone in a barroom brawl June 29 in St. Charles.

The lawyer, Wayne T. Schoeneberg of St. Charles, and another lawyer, Rex Burlison of St. Charles County, are being investigated for their role in a fight involving Vincent J. Huck of Lake Saint Louis. He is the husband of a woman who is suing Berry, a pioneer in rock 'n' roll. Huck says the two lawyers hit him.

Schoeneberg said Friday: ''The results of that test are conclusive that I am telling the truth and that my accusers are lying.''

The test was done by the University City firm of Wilhelm Meek & Associates. Herbert G. Wilhelm of that firm confirmed Schoeneberg's account.

Assistant Prosecuting Attorney John Zimmerman said the polygraph had no effect on the prosecutor's investigation. ''It means nothing,'' he said.


Prosecutor Hannah says his office won't talk to the press

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

July 20 / 1990

By Marianna Riley / the Post-Dispatch Staff

St. Charles County Prosecutor William J. Hannah said Wednesday that neither he nor his assistants would discuss with the media any criminal case that his office handles. The policy was announced in a written press release stating that his office had filed four charges against Chuck Berry.

Dealing with the media on high-profile cases causes too much disruption in his office, Hannah said. ''When attorneys are available, they are bombarded by calls from the media for comments and information, taking time away from important duties,'' he said.

Even calling press conferences did not solve the problem, his release said.

Hannah also cited the problems of George ''Buzz'' Westfall, prosecuting attorney for St. Louis County. Westfall was recommended for discipline for his comments about a judge who heard an appeal in the Dennis Bulloch case.

Hannah is a candidate for the Republican nomination for prosecuting attorney in the primary election Aug. 7. His opponents are Tim Graham and Larry D. Nesslage. The winner of that election will face St. Charles County public defender Tim Braun, a Democrat, in the general election in November.

On Thursday, Graham said he thought the prosecutor's office had a duty to keep the press informed.

''The First Amendment is not being given its due respect when public officials close their door to the press,'' Graham said.

Braun said he thought it was the duty of the prosecutor to speak for the office. ''I believe part of the reason the public elects a prosecutor is because it wants to hear from him,'' he said.

''Certainly you have a duty to warn the community of any danger. In a criminal case you want to disseminate information that would aid in the apprehension of a dangerous person and allay the fear of the community when a dangerous person has been arrested.''


Berry, in tour in Sweden, denies charges against him

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

July 21 / 1990

By Marianna Riley / the St. Charles Post

Rock 'n' roll musician Chuck Berry, on tour in Sweden on Friday, denied charges filed against him after a raid on his farm in St. Charles County produced illegal drugs and videotapes of young people in sexual poses.

And Berry caused a stir at the airport in Stockholm, Sweden, Thursday night by swinging a bag at a television photographer, who was knocked to the ground and hit in the face with his camera.

Berry, 63, refused to talk with reporters on the scene but did give a statement through Swedish promoter Finn Johansson. Johansson said Berry denied the allegations against him. He quoted Berry as saying: ''It must be a sting. Someone is out to get me.''

St. Charles County Prosecutor William J. Hannah has refused to discuss the case with the press.

The charges stem from a raid on Berry's estate near Wentzville last month, when authorities went looking for large amounts of cocaine. They found no cocaine but seized three firearms, bags believed to contain marijuana and hashish, $122,501 in cash and numerous videotapes, slides and books described as ''sexual in content.''

The charges against Berry allege he made movies of three young people under the age of 17, in the nude, ''for the purposes of sexual stimulation or gratification.''

Berry's attorney, Wayne T. Schoeneberg, said he had been told by people who have seen the movies that authorities ''have identified three young women.''

Schoeneberg said that he was not advising Berry to cut his Swedish tour short. He declined to say when Berry was expected to return to this country.

He said he had made arrangements with Hannah's office for Berry to be given time to complete his concert tour. ''I told him our first order of business will be for him to turn himself in, make bond, and then go on with business as usual,'' he said.

Berry's first concert in Sweden was panned in the Swedish press. The show took place in the small town of Junsele. The critic in "Expressen" said Berry played and sang out of tune but with strong showmanship.

The Associated Press contributed information for this story.


Chuck Berry turns himself in

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

July 31 / 1990

Rock 'n' roll pioneer Chuck Berry, just back from a concert tour in Sweden, turned himself in Monday morning at the St. Charles County courthouse. While out of the country, Berry had been charged with possession of marijuana and of making movies of youths in the nude.

He has denied the charges. Wayne T. Schoeneberg, Berry's attorney, said the singer posted a $20,000 property bond.

The charges stemmed from a raid last month on Berry's estate south of Wentzville by members of the St. Charles County Multijurisdictional Enforcement Group. Seized in the raid were three firearms, bags of material thought to be marijuana and hashish, $122,501 in cash and videotapes, slides and books described as ''sexual in content.''


No comment

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

July 27 / 1990

St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney William J. Hannah still doesn't have it right. First he was criticized for holding a news conference about a search at Chuck Berry's home in Wentzville that turned up little if anything of what it was supposed to find. Then, stung by negative reviews of that performance, he decided that he and his assistants won't discuss their business with the press at all.

Now, he should try the proper approach: Conduct business in the open and release to the press and the public all the information it deserves to know. Responding to reporters' questions doesn't detract from a prosecutor's job; it is an important part of that job. Citizens who should have respect for the law won't get it from a prosecutor who hides when the questions become too embarrassing.


Hannah hoping buck trend, win re-election

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

August 3 / 1990

By Kim Bell / the St. Charles Post

William J. Hannah is hoping to do what no prosecuting attorney in St. Charles County has done since 1972 - win re-election. Four people in the past two decades have tried to capture back-to-back terms. Only David A. Dalton, in his re-election bid of 1972, was able to pull it off. Hannah himself wasn't successful when he ran for a second term in 1982. Democratic candidate Larry D. Nesslage won the job away from Hannah that year with 55 percent of the vote. But Hannah's back in the office - wrapped in his share of controversy - and aims to buck some trends before the year is out. His current four-year term expires Dec. 31.

Reviews of the incumbent are decidedly mixed:

One detractor, an area lawyer, says of Hannah, ''I don't think he's capable of making a competent decision.''

One supporter, Garrie Cortelyou, an investigator finishing his eighth year with Hannah's office, says: ''He doesn't cater to special-interest groups . . . he's a breath of fresh air.''

On Tuesday, Republican voters will decide a three-way race for their party's nominee to the prosecutor's job. The three are: Hannah; Timothy Graham, who lost to Hannah in the 1986 primary; and Nesslage, who filed this year as a Republican.

Graham, 35, manages a staff of six at Hyatt Legal Services in Bridgeton, where about 15 percent of the work is criminal cases. Graham says he can win the confidence of the County Commission to earn bigger budgets for the St. Charles County prosecutor's office.

Nesslage, 47, runs a private practice in St. Charles County and is municipal judge for Portage des Sioux and Wentzville. Nesslage says he would personally try more cases than Hannah has - one in four years - and try to see that cases are prosecuted more swiftly.

The winner of Tuesday's contest will face the Democrat's choice on Nov. 6. Timothy A. Braun, a Democrat unopposed in his party's primary, is likely to promote his experience as a trial attorney; Braun, 43, spent 13 years as the county's public defender.

Hannah, 52, earns $63,000 a year as county prosecutor. From his office at the old Fischbach Hotel in downtown St. Charles, Hannah oversees a staff of about 23 people, including 10 lawyers. He administers a budget this year of $580,000, which includes money for the child-support office. He says he sets policy and assists lawyers on pending cases. Jury trial experience is not something Hannah took to the voters in his first campaign. He said in 1978 his 11 years as an Army officer would make him a good administrator. Today his critics call him arrogant, unwilling to bend; others say his Army background makes him a forceful, but respected, leader.

As prosecutor, Hannah has tried one murder case. It came in 1988. The defendant, Bruce Morris, was charged with first-degree murder in the death of his wife. The jury convicted Morris of voluntary manslaughter. Would Graham and Nesslage spend more time in court? Graham says he will be involved in all cases but, ''Whether I get in the courtrooms remains to be seen,'' Graham said. Nesslage said, ''I intend to be a working prosecutor. I intend to be in the office or in the court.''

In his campaign this year, Hannah points to his abilities as an administrator. He says he has battled for bigger budgets and survived the loss of at least 14 assistant prosecutors since January 1987. Hannah claims to have assembled ''the most efficient and effective prosecutor's [office of this size in Missouri.'' When it comes to Hannah's administrative skills, some say he deserves praise while others will scoff at his effectiveness. Kent Fanning, first assistant prosecutor for St. Charles County, has been in the office since 1976. He said Hannah's strengths are that he has increased the staff's salaries, increased the number of lawyers, and expanded the office space. Fanning said salaries for starting lawyers have risen dramatically since Hannah took over as prosecutor in 1987. Specifically, Fanning said lawyers starting off in the office in 1976 earned $17,500 a year. By 1987, the starting salary had crept up to just $18,000.

Now, the starting salary is more than $23,000, Fanning said. Yet they still fall far below the salaries of assistants in St. Louis and St. Louis County. Graham and Nesslage both say the high turnover - 14 lawyers since 1987 - is a sign of trouble.

''We've been told they are leaving because of budget problems, but there is a leadership gap,'' Graham said. ''That is partially responsible for, or leads to a budgetary problem.''

A. John DeVouton, a lawyer who left Hannah's office in 1987 for the St. Louis County prosecutor's office, said a bigger salary in St. Louis County is not the only reason he quit. Morale was a factor, he said. Some lawyers had a morale problem in part because of what they perceived to be inequities in the work load and salaries, and because Hannah was often absent from the office, said a lawyer who resigned in May 1988, Elizabeth Shannahan.

Another lawyer who left for a higher-paying job in Kentucky, Jacquelyn A.J. Rubemeyer, said she can't complain about Hannah.

''He always gave me free reign on my cases and always backed me up,'' said Rubemeyer, who left in April 1989 to work with the U.S. attorney's office crime and drug task force. ''For me, he was wonderful. Of course, I worked my butt off for him.''

Fanning said he has seen a trend in the re-election attempts of his three bosses - Ronald Boggs, Nesslage, and Hannah.

''They build up enemies, and the press gets on certain cases'' right before an election, Fanning said. ''None of these people has ever repeated.''

An average voter may know Hannah more for the high-profile cases his office is handling. ''He's blamed for things he has no control over,'' Fanning said. ''So much of this thing is perception about prosecutors, things they have no control over. Such as this Williams case, which is actually my case. He [Hannah has little control over this.'' The Williams case is a first-degree murder case stemming from the death of entertainer Walter Scott, who disappeared in 1983. Scott's body, with a bullet hole in his back, was found in 1987.

Scott's wife, Joann Notheis Williams, and her present husband, James Williams Sr., have been indicted in the killing. James Williams also is charged with killing his former wife, Sharon E. Williams, who died about two months before Scott's disappearance. The case still has not gone to trial, and Hannah's critics are raising eyebrows, pointing fingers and claiming that incompetence in the prosecutor's office may have played a role. Fanning said the case is delayed when defense attorneys continually seek - and are granted - delays. Asked recently where his support lies, Hannah replied: ''The average citizen of St. Charles County is my friend, because we go out and try to enforce the law. Even the difficult cases, we don't shy away from, including when a rock 'n' roll legend gets charged with a crime.''

The rock legend is Chuck Berry, charged in July with possession of marijuana and child-abuse. Hannah was criticized for waiting nearly a month after he held a press conference on the raid itself to file charges. He then was criticized again when he set a new policy that prosecutors no longer would talk to reporters about criminal cases that his office handles.

In an interview Wednesday, Hannah said he's not getting a fair shake.

''The news media has not portrayed [it accurately'' and is ''not even close to being fair,'' Hannah said. The press conference was not initiated by his office, he said. And an editorial in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is unfair because it criticized him ''for talking too much, and then [talking) not enough. . . . It's beating me to death,'' Hannah said.

Graham said he thought the prosecutor's office has a duty to keep the press informed. ''The First Amendment is not being given its due respect when the public officials close their door to the press.'' Nesslage agreed. In a recent interview, Nesslage said, ''You just can't say, 'I'm not going to talk to you,' because you're upset. It's a public office. You have to answer to the public.''

In St. Louis County, a candidate for prosecutor once urged voters to ''Ask A Cop'' if they wanted to know more about him. And while some groups have endorsed candidates in that county's race for prosecutor, a spokesman for a local police officers associations in St. Charles County said the group is making no formal endorsement in this primary election.

Most police officers and police chiefs interviewed by the St. Charles Post were reluctant to talk publicly about any of the candidates. As one law enforcement officer put it, ''It's a no-win situation'' to talk before an election. Hannah has said his office instituted a new policy about two years ago to open the lines of communication between the prosecutors and police. The meetings were designed, Hannah said, to clear the air and to get updates on new policies. One of the police chiefs, John B. Selby of the Lake Saint Louis Police Department, characterizes the rapport between Hannah's office and law enforcement officers as ''deteriorating.'' He said the monthly meetings are not working.

''Mr. Hannah started them but he never shows up,'' Selby said. ''He sends one of his assistants. The one-on-one contact is lost, so I stopped going.''

Hannah countered by saying that he attends an average of 10 or 12 meetings a year. Hannah criticized Selby, whose ''attendance is woefully lacking.'' Hannah also said it is difficult to make friends as a prosecutor. Selby said he is most upset that cases his officers handled are being backlogged longer than when Nesslage was in office. Under Nesslage's term, Selby said, a police officer who brought a case to the prosecutor's office could talk to a prosecutor right then about the case.

''My officers never have a chance to discuss it now,'' Selby said. ''They're instructed to leave the report and prosecutors will call if they have any questions.'' Hannah said his office has no policy that requires an officer to leave the report behind. If a prosecutor is available, he or she will go over the case with the officer, Hannah said. And the chiefs of police had requested that the prosecutor's office not make the police officers sit around all day waiting to discuss the case, Hannah said.

Attorney John Zimmerman, in Hannah's office, said he hopes the office can get to warrants more quickly in the future by hiring two new lawyers. The lawyers would be hired with the help of a new federal grant. Another police chief, Ronald Neubauer of the St. Peters Police Department, said the monthly meetings have ''a lot of potential.'' Neubauer, who is coming on his second year as chief, said, ''On those occasions where I've attended the prosecutor's meetings, there has been a lot discussed. And there has been movement in some areas.''

For example, Neubauer said he asked at the meeting if five evidence forms could be combined into a single form. The department's evidence custodian had wanted a simpler method. Hannah's office studied the matter and approved the change.


Chuck Berry in good times and in bad, singer returns to Wentzwille

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

August 5, 1990.

By Marianna Riley Of the Post-Dispatch Staff

If I don't get no satisfaction from the judge I'm gonna take it to the FBI as a personal grudge If they don't give me no consolation I'm gonna take it to the United Nations I'm gonna see that you'll be back home in 30 days'' (Chuck Berry, ''30 Days'').

On the last Sunday in July, Chuck Berry came back home - home from a less-than-successful European tour to face charges involving drugs and sex. On Monday, he turned himself in at the St. Charles County Jail, posted a $20,000 bond and ''returned to business as usual,'' says his attorney, Wayne Schoeneberg. For Berry, ''business as usual'' means making music and overseeing his holdings near Wentzville, in St. Charles County. County records show that he owns at least 200 acres near Wentzville. Among his holdings are his 30-acre compound, called Berry Park, plus the Southern Air Restaurant (now out of business) and apartments and other rental property around Wentzville. But real estate is just business. The Chuck Berry legend lives in his pioneering music, the rock 'n' roll that defined the sound of the '50s and influenced future generations of musicians. ''Chuck Berry is to rock 'n' roll what Louis Armstrong is to jazz,'' Dave Marsh, rock 'n' roll critic and historian, once wrote.

Berry calls the year of his birth - 1926 - ''the best year of my life.'' In his autobiography, written in 1987 Ahe calls himself ''another sunshiny baby boy.'' A As a small boy with a big name - Charles Edward Anderson Berry - he invented what would become his show-biz trademark. He was trying to retrieve a rubber ball that had bounced beneath the kitchen table at the family home, at 2520 Goode Avenue in north St. Louis. His mother had company - members of her choir - so young Berry was trying to be unobtrusive. He bent his knees but kept his back and head straight as he slipped under the table and scooted forward to pick up the ball. The choir members applauded with laughter, and his ''act'' became a family ritual. Years later, in his New York debut, he revived it. A journalist dubbed it ''the duck walk,'' and the legend was on its way.

Berry had his first brush with the law at age 17, when he began a two-year stint in the Algoa Reformatory for armed robbery. He explains that as an attempt to pay for a teen-age joy ride. (His time behind bars inspired a later song, ''Thirty Days.'') Once out, Berry devoted his muscles to carpentry but his mind to music. He wrote lyrics in language that was inventive - in fact, invented. For example, in ''Maybelline,'' his first hit, he has himself ''motorvating'' over the hill. In his book, he coins the term ''hospitaboo,'' a combination of ''hospitality '' and ''taboo.'' It describes what he experienced on his first tour of the South. ''Maybelline,'' recorded in 1955, was on the pop charts when Berry made that tour. To his surprise, that song got far more applause from the white side of his audience than the rhythm-and-bluesey ''Wee Wee Hours.'' After that, his music became ''anglopinionated,'' as Berry puts it - made palatable to the white broadcasters.

By age 30, Berry had hit it big with a string of successes - ''Roll Over Beethoven,'' ''Too Much Monkey Business,'' ''Brown Eyed Handsome Man,'' ''Havana Moon,'' ''Drifting Heart.'' By the standards of pop music, 30 is an advanced age; teen-agers in Berry's audiences in the late 1950s started to address him as ''Mr. Berry.'' He didn't mind; he kept abreast by tailoring his music to the younger set - ''Sweet Little 16'' and ''School Days.'' In April 1957, Berry spent $8,000 for the farmland that would become Berry Park. The land, three miles south of Wentzville on Buckner Road, offered ''bluebirds, butterflies and katydids,'' he writes. He envisioned something like the country club where, as a boy, he helped his father repair plumbing in the all-white clubhouse. To a small black child, he later recalled, that country club seemed ''like the Garden of Eden.'' His Berry Park would be an integrated garden, where blacks and whites could mix harmoniously to fish, hunt, swim, dance, picnic and be entertained. He wanted to put in rides. He pictured a mini-Disneyland. It didn't turn out that way.

Berry's many concerts in the '60s at Berry Park fell victim to such problems of the time as drugs and rowdiness. Although Berry insists that he uses neither drugs nor alcohol, many in his audiences did. Eventually, the concerts disappeared. These days, Berry Park is a tranquil, slightly down-at-the-heels assortment of buildings that include Berry's brick ranch home. About the only sign of his original vision are small lakes and a large pool. Over the years, the grounds have been used by friends of Berry who have held l get-togethers of various sorts. The grounds are not open to the public.

Berry's legal problems are fast becoming part of the legend. The most recent spate started late in December, when Hosana Huck, a cook at his Southern Air Restaurant, sued him. She alleged that he had videotaped her with cameras hidden in the women's restroom. Since then, other women have filed a class-action suit against Berry, charging that he videotaped them in bathrooms on his property. In June, federal and county law-enforcement officials raided his estate. The affidavit they used to get a search warrant said they were looking for cocaine, drug records and pornographic material. That raid led to felony charges July 19 from the St. Charles County prosecutor's office. They accuse Berry of one count of possession of more than 35 grams of marijuana and three counts of child abuse. The abuse counts stem from the allegations that he videotaped young people in the nude, considered a form of child abuse under Missouri law.

Wentzville makes no effort to advertise that it is home to Chuck Berry. No signs or arrows point the way to Berry Park. Not even the Southern Air Restaurant was ever identified as being owned by the rock star. A brochure published by the Wentzville Chamber of Commerce does not mention Berry. When asked about the omission, Mayor Lee Barton Jr., said, ''With all the trouble he's been in lately, maybe it's a good thing he's not in the brochure.'' Civic leaders decided recently to make no mention of Berry in a video tape that is being filmed to promote Wentzville as a community ripe for commercial and industrial development. City Administrator Joe McReynolds said a committee that decided the content of the video had ''split down the middle'' on the issue. ''They finally decided that Chuck Berry's name had nothing to do with economic development,'' he said. Still, Berry remains popular with many Wentzville residents.

Some - like Clara Fortmann, who cleans Berry's clothes - were at first reluctant to talk about him, fearing a negative press. She would say only, ''He's always been fair with me. He's a good person.'' But as she warned to the topic, she recalled how she once had pressed his pants while he waited and she had refused to let him pay her. ''He came over and pecked my cheek,'' she said. ''He gives me good tips and always sends Christmas presents,'' she said. She remembered a basket of fruit that was almost too large to carry home. ''He cares,'' she said. ''I consider Chuck Berry a good friend. If I needed anything, he'd give it to me. It makes me mad to read these things in the paper.'' At the Western Auto, where Berry has traded for years, owner George Ehll Sr. recalled that about 25 years ago, Berry ''went to bat'' to solve what Ehll referred to as ''integration problems,'' in western St. Charles County. ''He held meetings with civic leaders and school officials,'' Ehll said. ''It was all his doing. He probably did more to solve our problems here than anybody else. But he never got any thanks for it. ''A lot of people forget.''

Others in Wentzville remember such charitable deeds as free Thanksgiving turkeys. ''He's always polite,'' said a waitress at Crossroads Cafeteria, where Berry frequently eats. The new charges angered at least one friend. ''He's been set up,'' said Theresa Yvonne Schmitt, who was Berry's companion for several years at Berry Park. ''Chuck never used drugs,'' she said. ''The only drugs that were there are those the other stars brought in. I remember Keith Richards [of the Rolling Stones caused a big stink once . . .'' Schmitt said she thought St. Charles County wanted to get rid of Berry for reasons that have more to do with lifestyle than drugs. ''All he's done,'' she said, ''is be a black man dating a lot of white girls.''

As open as Berry is with the people of Wentzville, he has long been a closed book to the press. So he surprised many people by showing up June 28 at a press conference called by St. Charles County Prosecutor William J. Hannah. Hannah had called the press conference to discuss the raid at Berry's estate. Berry said he was there ''just to listen'' as Hannah recounted the items police seized. (Despite the affidavit, police found no cocaine.) But Hannah proved to be just the opening act for the veteran star. As Hannah vacated his seat, Berry slid into it. To a packed house of reporters, he said, ''I never used cocaine . . . nobody in my band does either.'' After the press conference, as an upbeat Berry strode to a waiting car, he was asked if he had ever considered moving to a place where he might be more welcome - where his lifestyle would be tolerated, where he would be left alone. He was adamant. He would not be driven out of town, he said.

''I was born here. Thank God, I can stay here.''


$100,000 returned to Berry cash seized in raid

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

September 28 / 1990

By Marianna Riley / the St. Charles Post

Rock 'n' roll legend Chuck Berry says that ''fighting city hall can be a problem.''

But he has one less problem since receiving news Wednesday that federal officials had decided to return more than $100,000 that police seized in a raid of his estate in June.

Berry says he has been fighting officialdom ever since that raid, which resulted in his being charged with one count of possession of marijuana and three counts of child abuse.

Berry, 63, said he has put much of his personal life on hold in his effort to fight the charges. Among other things, he wants more time to spend with his 13 grandchildren, he said.

''I've put in a lot of time on research. I've got to show that these accusations aren't true. Words are not enough,'' he said.

Berry said he did not know if interest would be paid on the confiscated money. He appeared relieved to know he was getting back the principal and said he was more worried about other things.

''My greatest loss is the erroneous publicity,'' he said.

He said he wanted to clear his name. ''I don't think any of my friends, my colleages or my associates - or even my enemies - think I'm involved with drugs,'' he said.

In a letter sent Tuesday to the Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Attorney Stephen B. Higgins of St. Louis wrote that his office is arranging to return the confiscated money to Berry. Higgins could not be reached for comment. An assistant U.S. attorney, Daniel E. Meuleman declined to comment on why officials had decided against seeking forfeiture of the money.

Police raided Berry's property near Wentzville on June 23. The affidavit supporting the search warrant for the raid said Berry was trafficking in large amounts of cocaine. No cocaine was seized in the raid.

But officials did seize $122,501. Officials said they also took three firearms, marijuana, hashish, videotapes, slides and books described as ''sexual in content.''

The raid in June was conducted by members of St. Charles County's Multijurisdictional Enforcement Group.

After the raid, the St. Charles County Prosecutor's office charged Berry with one count of possession of marijuana and three counts of child abuse. The abuse charges allege that Berry made films of young people under the age of 17 for the purpose of ''sexual stimulation or gratification.'' Berry said he recently had earned $24,000 of the cash that was seized in an engagement. The balance, he had withdrawn from a bank shortly before the raid, he said.

Berry's attorney, Wayne T. Schoeneberg of St. Charles, said the decision of federal authorities to return his client's property indicated to him that ''people in Washington have exercised a little bit of judgment. They looked at the evidence and concluded that Chuck Berry is not dealing in drugs.

''There never has been any credible evidence to support that he was and there never will be,'' Schoeneberg said.

Berry has had other recent troubles with the law beginning in December, when Hosana Huck, a former cook in his Southern Air Restaurant in Wentzville, filed suit against him, alleging that he had violated her privacy.

Huck claimed in her suit that Berry had taken pictures of her with cameras hidden in the restroom. Since then, an undetermined number of women have filed a class-action suit against Berry, charging that he had made videotapes of them when they were undressing and using the bathrooms on his property known as ''Berry Park,'' in the 600 block of Buckner Road in Wentzville, and at the restaurant, in the 1100 block of Pitman Avenue in Wentzville. The Southern Air Restaurant has since closed.

The names of the plaintiffs in the class-action suit were sealed by order of Circuit Court Judge Lester W. Duggan Jr.


No particular place to show: Berry sues over nude photos

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

October 31 / 1990.

By Tim Poor / the Post-Dispatch Staff

''Johnny B. Bad'' was how a magazine announced its publication of nude photos of rock 'n' roller Chuck Berry and several women. Now Berry has filed a suit that he hopes will leave the magazine's publisher reelin' and rockin'.

The suit originally was filed in January in San Francisco against Drake Publishers Inc., the publisher of High Society, a New York-based sex magazine. It was refiled Monday in St. Louis Circuit Court. Without Berry's knowledge or permission, the suit says, the magazine published eight photographs of Berry posing with unidentified nude women as the cover story for the January edition.

''SECRET SEX PHOTOS CHUCK BERRY NUDE! Johnny B. Bad With All of His WOMEN,'' the magazine announced on its cover, according to the petition.

The suit says that the photos were stolen from Berry, 63, who had kept them ''in a secure hiding place,'' and that the magazine bought the photos from Vincent J. Huck of Lake Saint Louis. Huck is the husband of Hosanna Huck, a former cook at a restaurant Berry owned.

Hosanna Huck has sued Berry, claiming he took pictures of her with cameras hidden in the restroom of the restaurant. Publication of the photos of Berry in High Society violated Berry's privacy, hurt his career and exposed him to ridicule, contempt and embarrassment, the suit says. It seeks unspecified damages from the magazine and from Huck.


Chuck Berry unburdened by resolution of charges

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

November 23 / 1990.

By Marianna Riley / the Post-Dispatch Staff

''Legendary musician Chuck Berry celebrated Thanksgiving unburdened by child-abuse charges that have haunted him since July. On Tuesday, after extensive plea negotiations, prosecutors dropped the criminal child-abuse charges and Berry agreed to two years unsupervised probation for a misdemeanor marijuana charge that was filed in connection with the child abuse charges.

Berry has been in trouble with the law off and on throughout his career that began in the mid-1950s with hits such as ''Maybellene.'' Berry's recent spate of legal problems started when ''High Society Magazine'' published nude pictures of Berry and female companions last year. He sued the magazine for $10 million, and not long after he was embroiled in a local lawsuit that was brought against him by Hosana Huck, a former cook in his Southern Air Restaurant in Wentzville. Huck claimed that Berry had taken pictures of her with cameras hidden in the restroom.

Since then, several other women have filed a class-action suit against Berry, charging that he made videotapes of them when they were undressing and using the bathrooms on his property known as ''Berry Park,'' at 691 Buckner Road in Wentzville and at the restaurant at 1102 Pitman Avenue in Wentzville. The restaurant has since closed. At a news conference Wednesday in St. Charles in the office of his lawyer, Wayne Schoeneberg, Berry said the criminal and civil suits were all related, and suggested that one person had stolen the tapes and had set him up. He declined to discuss the civil suits or to mention any names.

Last week, Vincent J. Huck, the husband of Hosana Huck, filed a libel and slander suit against Berry in St. Louis Circuit Court. In that suit, Vincent Huck claims Berry had accused him of stealing the photographs. Huck denied in his suit that had stolen the tapes.

Richard J. Schwartz, another of Berry's lawyers, agreed that the incidents were all related. ''It's like a nuclear reaction. Huck sold the pictures and guaranteed he'd hold 'High Society' harmless. Berry filed suit against the magazine and within days, Huck's wife sues Berry.'' He said he was disappointed that Berry would be on probation. ''I think it's terrible he won't have complete relief from what [St. Charles County prosecutor William J. Hannah did to him,'' Schwartz said.

Among other things, the criminal charges cost Berry an appearance on the Johnny Carson show in August, which is worth about $200,000 to a major name entertainer, Schwartz said. As part of his negotiations, Berry also will make a $5,000 contribution to local programs for drug and alcohol education and rehabilitation.

Berry has also Berry dropped a suit he filed Nov. 2 against Hannah, in which Berry charged Hannah with prosecutorial misconduct. All of the criminal charges against Berry were filed in St. Charles County. The charges - three for child abuse and one for possession of more than 35 grams of marijuana - stemmed from a raid on Berry's estate near Wentzville on June 23.

In that raid, the St. Charles County's Multijurisdictional Enforcement Group seized videotapes, slides and books described as ''sexual in content.'' Also seized in the raid were three firearms, the marijuana and $122,501 in cash. Federal officials returned the money in September.


$William Hannah's swan song

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

November 26 / 1990

Resolution of the Chuck Berry case was a fitting swan song for departing St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney William Hannah. In June, Mr. Hannah announced the raid on Mr. Berry's farm near Wentzville with great fanfare, supposedly after authorities heard that a shipment of cocaine could be found there. Instead of cocaine, police seized videotapes, slides and books that led to three charges of child abuse against the rock'n'roll pioneer.

Now those charges have been dropped, and Mr. Berry has been placed on two years of unsupervised probation for a misdemeanor marijuana charge. He also agreed to donate $5,000 to a drug and alcohol treatment program and promised that more donations will be coming. In return, Mr. Berry dropped a suit in which he sought $600,000 in damages for what he alleged was prosecutorial misconduct by Mr. Hannah.

The prosecutor's office insists that the lengthy plea bargaining in the Berry case did not include a deal that the suit against Mr. Hannah be dropped in exchange for the lesser charge against Mr. Berry. But Richard E. Schwartz, a lawyer for Mr. Berry, dismisses that view, saying that the child abuse charges against his client ''would never have been dropped if we hadn't put Hannah's neck on the chopping block.''

Now, Mr. Berry says, he will be able to resume a career that was stalled while the child abuse charges hung over him. As for Mr. Hannah, his fate was determined by disgusted voters who booted him out of office November 6 by a vote of more than 2-1. The message might be interpreted like this: "Hail, hail rock'n'roll. Roll over, Bill Hannah."

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