Ramapo Town Supervisor Arrested Amid Corruption Probe: Prosecutors

The supervisor of a Rockland County town and a former development executive are both facing federal fraud and conspiracy charges, federal prosecutors said.

Ramapo Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence, 65, and N. Aaron Troodler, 42, the former director of the Ramapo Local Development Corporation, were both named in a 22-count indictment charging them with securities fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy and other crimes, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

Both men pleaded not guilty to the charges Thursday at their arraignment in White Plains. They were released on $500,000 bond each after agreeing to put up their homes as collateral.

"I pleaded not guilty and I look for my day in court," St. Lawrence shouted as he left the federal courthouse. Troodler declined to comment on his way out of court.

St. Lawrence is accused of inflating town assets to obtain the $25 million in municipal bonds used to build Provident Bank Park in 2012, a stadium outside Pomona used as a sports and concert venue.

“St. Lawrence and Troodler allegedly engaged in a complex securities fraud scheme so they could hide public funds being used for the construction of a stadium and other projects,” FBI Assistant Director Diego Rodriguez said. “The illegal activity allegedly continued even after they became aware the town and the corporation tasked with development initiatives were subjects of a federal investigation.”

St. Lawrence also was Ramapo Local Development Corporation chairman. Investigators were looking into the movement of money between that agency and town accounts. They also want to know whether the LDC, which oversaw the stadium project, generated money and repaid the town.

The arrests come three years after the FBI and the district attorney's office raided the Ramapo Town Hall and seized records from the finance and tax departments and the offices of the supervisor and town attorney.

Ramapo Deputy Supervisor Patrick Withers said Thursday that the arrests "cast a dark cloud over our town." 

"The charges unveiled today shake the foundation of that principle and the faith of the people of Ramapo," Withers said. "While I believe in the presumption of innocence for all until their guilt is proven, I know that what is right for the Town of Ramapo requires that difficult decisions must be made in the coming days."

The arrests marked the first time a public official has been prosecuted for municipal bond-related securities fraud, authorities said.

The defendants "kicked truth and transparency to the curb, selling over $150 million of municipal bonds on fabricated financials," said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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