RAMAPO, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Anger and outrage erupted at a town board meeting in Rockland County Wednesday, with the fireworks and finger-pointing all aimed at the Ramapo town supervisor who finds himself on the wrong side of the law.
St. Lawrence was indicted by a federal grand jury last month for allegedly misrepresenting Ramapo town finances in the sale of $150 million in municipal bonds.
Residents of the town’s various villages jammed the meeting to capacity.
“There is no way that Supervisor St. Lawrence can justify that his remaining in office is in the best interests of this town,” said William Brodsky of Montebello.
Opponents have long claimed St. Lawrence has run roughshod over them because he enjoys the so-called bloc vote support of ultra-Orthodox Jewish villages in Ramapo. Some of those residents rose to his defense at the noisy meeting.
“He was elected. I believe he should serve his term; he should sit in tight,” said Isaac Muller of Monsey.
Among the agenda items on Wednesday night was what to do about a fire inspector who admitted to falsifying safety and fire records for area yeshivas in the Orthodox towns. The board voted to suspend and demote the inspector, but keep him on the town payroll.
“What do you need to do in the town of Ramapo to get fired from your job?” said Jan DelFerrari of Airmont. “What?”
St. Lawrence has had no public comment since his arrest, but his opponents said they will continue to hound him at every meeting until he resigns.
St. Lawrence was arrested by the FBI on April 14 along with Aaron Troodler, 42, former executive director of the Ramapo Local Development Corporation. The town supervisor is accused specifically of inflating town assets to obtain the $25 million in municipal bonds used to build Provident Bank Park in 2012 when the town was actually in the red.
St. Lawrence, of Wesley Hills, also was Ramapo Local Development Corporation chairman. Investigators were looking into the movement of money between that agency and town accounts. They also wanted to know whether the LDC, which oversaw the stadium project, generated money and repaid the town.
In 2012, how the stadium would be paid for came under question when auditors suggested that taxpayers could be liable to pay up to $60 million in expenses on the ballpark.
Auditors found it would take more than $25 million in bond payments over the next five years when the stadium was only expected to make $7 million in revenue. At the time, St. Lawrence defended the local development corporation in charge of paying for the project, saying it was working well within the law.
According to the indictment, St. Lawrence and Troodler allegedly inflated the size of the town’s 2010 general fund by $3.6 million in 2011, when the RLDC issued $25 million in bonds in order to secure funds needed to construct the ballpark. St. Lawrence and Troodler then falsely told investors the bonds were being paid for with stadium revenue and revenue from the RLDC’s condominium business, officials said.
Voters said no to financing the minor league ballpark in Pomona, but St. Lawrence pushed ahead with the development corporation to get the project done.
St. Lawrence is also accused of inflating the general fund by transferring money out of the town’s Ambulance Fund and by inflating the amount of money the town received in Federal Emergency Management Agency aid to help with Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Irene, officials said.