Nothing seems to be missing at St. James Episcopal Church, where Paul Greenwood is the treasurer. The books at the local library, where he was on the board, appear to be in order. A financial audit of town government, where Greenwood moonlighted as supervisor and refused the $88,257 salary, hasn't turned up anything suspicious so far.
Greenwood, 61, is accused of defrauding schools, pension plans and others of half a billion dollars as manager of investment funds based in Greenwich, Conn., and Santa Barbara, Calif. But neighbors and acquaintances in bucolic North Salem say the generous, down-to-earth man they know doesn't match the schemer portrayed by federal prosecutors when he was arrested last month.
“I couldn't have been more surprised if I found Mother Teresa running a protection racket in Calcutta,'' said John Steele Gordon, a business and financial historian who said he has known Greenwood for more than 10 years.
The case against Greenwood and his partner Stephen Walsh, 64, of Sands Point, is among several that have been filed since the meltdown of the credit markets. Although the Greenwood case allegedly involves hundreds of millions of dollars, it does not approach the biggest case, in which financier Bernard Madoff pleaded guilty last week to a multibillion-dollar fraud.
North Salem, 45 miles north of New York City on the Connecticut line, is wealthy but undeveloped, almost rural except for some recently built McMansions. The 5,100 residents, including David Letterman, actor Stanley Tucci and Oscar-winning composer Alan Menken, are spread over 33 square miles dotted by horse farms.
The complaint against Greenwood says he spent millions of misappropriated dollars on himself, notably for his collections of animals -- some living and some stuffed.
Before Greenwood went into public service just over a year ago -- he resigned March 5 -- he and his wife, Robin, were best known for their horse farm of nearly 300 acres. It's named Grand Central for a horse Robin had as a girl. The Greenwoods breed, raise and sell show ponies, and according to the farm's Internet site, the best are worth more than $100,000.
From Dingle Ridge Road, the farm is all tidy stone walls and labyrinths of paddock fencing. No one responded to a reporter's knock at the door of the big house near the road. The 22,000-square-foot barn, which the Greenwoods built, is out of view. It has a 55-foot-high, 120-by-180 foot arena for horse shows.
Grand Central is Greenwood's second horse farm in North Salem. In 1983 he bought Old Salem Farm from actors Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward for $2.1 million. He sold it in 2001 and bought Grand Central, then called Eight Bells, with his wife.
The Greenwoods' three-story, multimillion-dollar brick house has a view of the reservoir and a floor-to-ceiling display area for their collection of Steiff stuffed animals, apparently something of an obsession.
The complaint says some of the missing money was used to buy collectible teddy bears, but the Greenwoods' collection goes well beyond bears.
“We've assembled what now seems to be the world's largest private collection of Steiffs,'' Greenwood said in Bedford magazine last year. “We've given shelter to more than 1,350 Steiff toys, and there's no way our collecting days are over.''
The magazine said the collection included 74 bears but also birds, cats, insects, dinosaurs, kangaroos, seals, squirrels and many other types of stuffed animals.
“Noah had nothing on us,'' Greenwood said.
The Greenwoods are among several landowners who allow their land to be used for the area's riding trails, renowned for their natural beauty.
Carol Goldberg, a real estate agent who also works with the North Salem Bridle Trails Association, says Greenwood is considered “a man of the highest integrity and incredible generosity.''
“It's very hard to wrap your mind around'' his arrest, she said. “Everything he's done has been positive. He's just so capable. I doubt you'll find a single person in town who'll say a bad thing about him.''
Greenwood, a Republican, ran for supervisor in 2007, promising to put partisan politics aside and take practical approaches to the town's problems.
Gordon says the townspeople are following the case closely but generally presuming Greenwood is innocent. “The town has talked about nothing else,'' he says. “It's been the biggest thing since Rochambeau's troops came through'' during the American Revolution.
Greenwood and Walsh are free on $7 million bond each and facing charges of conspiracy, securities fraud and wire fraud. Both are former part-owners of the New York Islanders hockey team.
Greenwood's lawyer, Robert Jossen, has refused comment.
Meanwhile, Greenwood's assets have been frozen and he's had to petition the court for $9,900 a month in household expenses for the family, including his daughters, aged 10 and 13. He's also asked for hundreds of thousands to run the farm.