Bloc Supported Christopher St. Lawrence Heckled at First Public Meeting Since Indictment
RAMAPO – In his first Town Board meeting since he was indicted on federal charges, town Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence quickly moved to a closed-door session and was berated by raucous residents.
The protesters voiced their disapproval anyway, by shouting and refusing to leave the chambers.
In a special meeting that lasted less than 10 minutes Wednesday morning, the board approved a handful of agenda items and then hastily went to into executive session, which the board can legally do to discuss personnel and other matters. The board asked a crowd of more than 35 protesters to leave the board chambers and denied them an opportunity to speak.
“Resign now! Resign now!” audience members yelled as police began escorting them from the room.
“The tension had been mounting for days, including street protests outside Town Hall and calls for Ramapo Supervisor Chris St. Lawrence to step aside. But the Ramapo Supervisor, who faces federal charges related to municipal bond activity (along with other members of his administration), had yet to stand before the public at an official Town Council meeting.”
The United States v. Christopher St. Lawrence and Ramapo, The Rockland County Times reports:
“April 28, 2016–When Ramapo Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence was arrested two weeks ago, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said it was the first municipal-bond related criminal securities fraud case brought against a public official.
St. Lawrence was charged with 22 counts of securities fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy for selling over $150 million in municipal bonds on fabricated financials. Those defrauded included the citizens of Ramapo and thousands of municipal bond investors around the country. The case will probably not get to court until next year, but hopefully, by that time, the New York State legislature and/or Governor Cuomo will have begun a long-overdue reform of New York’s Local Development Corp. law, which has enabled ethically challenged politicians like St. Lawrence across the state.
Painfully long timeline
Although the case is unique, the steps leading up to the indictment were pretty much standard operation for the FBI and the U.S. Attorney. In other words, slow steady progress that can be torture for those waiting for results, and then, finally, cases are bolted down with hardened evidence.
On May 15, 2013, about 40 agents from the FBI’s Evidence Response Team (ERT) arrived unannounced at Ramapo Town Hall. With the exception of a few key personnel, they cleared the building and spent the next seven hours searching several offices and removing computers, paper files, and hard drives. One resident was quoted, “The only thing they didn’t do [yet] is walk [Christopher St. Lawrence and other town leaders] out with cuffs on. I’ve been waiting for this for 10 years. Maybe there is a God.”
For the next two years, things seemed unchanged. In August, 2015, a story appeared in The Journal News claiming that the Feds were wrapping up and would be presenting their case soon. Fall and winter passed, and we entered the Spring of the third year after the raid and frustration was turning to “maybe this just isn’t going to happen.”
Then, at dawn, on April 14, FBI agents escorted St. Lawrence out of his home and took him to the federal courthouse in White Plains, where he would wait for the late afternoon arrival of his co-conspirator Aaron Troodler to arrive from his home in Pennsylvania.
The charges were outlined in two indictments. One was brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC v. Town of Ramapo, et al, case number 7:16-cv-02779), and the other was a criminal complaint brought by the United States of America v. St. Lawrence, et al., (case number7:16-cr-00259-CS). Two complete sets of charges combining 22 counts, each with serious federal sentencing guidelines attached. Added to the list of those to be prosecuted are Michael Klein and Nathan Oberman.
And what were the authorities doing all that time since the May 2013 raid? Well, one week after the arraignments, St. Lawrence and Troodler were called back in to make arrangements to have their attorneys get a look at the evidence against their clients. The evidence includes years’ worth of audio recordings, video and photos, and documents–205,000 documents. We estimate, using a Lexis-Nexis formula for average legal documents that they store, that these 205K documents likely contain up to 1.8 million pages. That’s what the investigators were doing for the three years. And probably, given their mode of operation, they were developing other lines of investigation as they worked the slow process of calling people in for interviews.
The attorneys for the defendants asked for 120 days to review the evidence, but Judge Kathy Seibel gave them 90 days to complete the pre-trial fact-finding process. She also set the next court date—July 21, at 4:30 p.m. in White Plains.
So after the long wait, we now have the full force of the US Department of Justice on one side backing the most successful New York corruption clean-up team in recent memory, and on the other, currently obscured from view by an Everest of evidence, is St. Lawrence, Klein, Troodler, and Oberman.”
For the article in its entirety click, here.