Tress Actually Doing the Right Thing?


Ramapo Samuel Tress expected to resign, plead

Ramapo Councilman Samuel “Shmuel” Tress is expected as soon as tonight to resign from office and plead guilty to official misconduct, according to sources familiar with the case.

The plea deal, which would drop a felony charge, would likely enable Tress to avoid jail time in the case.

Tress, 71, a Democrat who won election in November despite a federal mail fraud conviction, is accused of voting for a zone change on a housing development he held a financial stake in — even though he had signed an affidavit stating he wouldn’t profit from his decisions as a Zoning Board of Appeals member.

Under the plea agreement, Tress must send a letter to Ramapo resigning from the councilman position he’s held since January. He also is expected to face a fine.

The Airmont Justice Court session is scheduled for 5 p.m.

Rockland District Attorney’s Office detectives arrested Tress in March on a felony count of first-degree offering a false instrument and the misdemeanor charge of official misconduct.

Ramapo Town Attorney Michael Klein declined comment on Thursday, as did Executive Assistant District Attorney Richard Kennison Moran. Tress’  attorney Michael Gilbert of Manhattan did not return a telephone call seeking comment.

RELATED: 5 things to know about Samuel Tress

RELATED: Ramapo candidate is a felon, lives in NJ

The resignation would end Tress’ short career as an elected official. Tress won election to a four-year term in November running with Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence and Democratic Councilwoman Brendel Logan-Charles. He succeeded Democrat Daniel Friedman, who lost a September 2015 primary after he lost community support following a falling out for his criticism of St. Lawrence.

The all-Democrat Town Board would be tasked with appointing someone to fill the open seat.

Tress was a longtime member of the Zoning Board of Appeals before running for town council. He admitted to The Journal News in October 2015 that he owns a home in Lakewood, New Jersey, but claimed he spent most of the week in an Kearsing Parkway apartment in Monsey. He is the CEO of East Morgan Holdings, a Lakewood, New Jersey-based remediation company.

Court records show Tress pleaded guilty in December 2004 to a felony charge in a federal fraud case. He admitted he falsely assumed an identity to obtain a home mortgage loan from a bank in connection with the purchase of a home in Spring Valley. He was sentenced in March 2005 to three years of supervised release.

Tress’s recent arrest came after the District Attorney’s Office detectives scrutinized his ZBA vote on May 4, 2015, to approve eight zoning variances for what was then a single-family house at 142 Blauvelt Road in Monsey. The grassroots political party Preserve Ramapo provided the prosecutor’s office with more than 100 pages of documents on Tress.

Tress on May 14, 2015, had filed a disclosure affirmation with the town asserting that he had not and would not engage in any activity that would provide a personal or pecuniary gain to himself in relation to his duties as a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals, prosecutors contend.

Tress denied to a Journal News reporter that he profited from the ZBA approval.

Documents obtained by The Journal News before the arrest, however, showed Tress and his wife contracted to sell the single-family house for $500,000 to builder Samuel Wettenstein of Spring Valley in May 2013. Wettenstein obtained a demolition permit from Ramapo for his plan to build three condominiums and three accessory apartments on the property.

But the couple ended up with a 40 percent share of the property when the development stalled and Tress and his wife were still owed $150,000, according to town documents on the variance vote and a November lawsuit Tress filed against the buyer. The case was dropped last month, according to a document on file with the Rockland County Clerk’s Office.

Tress’s potential conviction adds to the list of politicians facing or sentenced for corruption charges in Rockland County, where District Attorney Thomas Zugibe’s office is part of an anti-corruption task force working with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan.


Naomi and David Bodner, Elm Street, Haredi Housing Scam, Christopher St. Lawrence





In 2011, the Ramapo Local Development Corp (think Christopher St. Lawrence and Aaron Troodler, SEC complaint) began selling units in a housing project referred to in social circles as the “Rockland Affordable Housing” project. The development was allegedly intended to be purchased by people who wanted homes but could not afford them and by design the target buyer was ultra-Orthodox. What in public was billed as affordable housing in private was nothing more than below market investment properties which would eventually yield buyers profits in the millions when they decided to sell.

The homes were purchased in large part by numerous LLC’s, many of which were and continue to be untraceable non-profits and tax-exempt entities. The homes were not purchased by the downtrodden.

One of the names among the owners is the family of Yossi Gestetner who lives in one of the Elm Street properties. He is one of the founders of OJPAC, a Political Action Committee heavily involved in endorsing the same corruption that makes up the fabric of Rockland County’s ultra-Orthodox Jewry, particularly as it connects to the Borough Park community. His ties to Dov Hiking and Boro Park’s elite Shomrim are no secret.

It also comes as no surprise that David and Naomi Bodner were among the first “buyers” of the property when the LDC started selling it. You know. The same Bodners who are involved with Marty Huberfeld and Platinum Parnters. The same Bodners who have more money than they could spend in a century of generations of lifetimes, much of it we surmise was amassed in less than savory transactions.

For your review we have included the SEC Complaint against Christopher St. Lawrence and his accomplices naming the Elm Street properties voraciously. We have also included articles picked up by Failed Messiah and a number of others.

This Elm Street properties are one family of the CSL LDC properties among many that heavily tie Rockland County’s Hasidic and ultra-Orthodox community (and its leaders) to Boro Park, and to some of New York’s dirtier politics. They also tie Rockland County to family Bodner and many of its family foundations. We expect there are more treasures to be found beyond what has been named over the years. 



Feds Uncover Alleged Ramapo Haredi Housing Scam –

Steve Lieberman

Police, Courts and Investigative Reporter

2 years ago

Ramapo’s Elm Street housing ‘below market,’ not ‘affordable’  via @lohud

Steve Lieberman

Police, Courts and Investigative Reporter

2 years ago

Steve Lieberman

Police, Courts and Investigative Reporter

2 years ago

Trouble? Ramapo Elm St. housing ‘below market,’ not ‘affordable’  via @lohud

Akiko Matsuda

Multimedia Journalist

2 years ago

TruthSquad on Ramapo Elm St. housing: ‘below market,’ not ‘affordable’  via @lohud

Akiko Matsuda

Multimedia Journalist

2 years ago

Ramapo Elm St. housing: ‘below market,’ not ‘affordable’  via @lohud




Aron Wieder – 98th Assembly District, the anti-non-ultra-Orthodox Jew



ARON WIEDER – A Nightmare for New York State, a Highly Beholden Political Figure, Anti Child Victim’s Act, Anti – Secular Education, Anti – Inspections



If ever there were someone suitably unsuited to run for an assembly seat, and there are many, it is Aron Wieder. His Legislature seat in Rockland County, according to one commenter, has been the worst thing to happen to the children of Rockland, particularly East Ramapo Central School District, marking the school district’s demise. 

Legislator Wieder has unabashedly spoken out against a monitor with veto power. He has systematically criticized the Rockland County Executive Ed Day for his position on inspections of Yeshivas and other properties, as well as his decision to enforce County tax laws. He has spoken of racism in Rockland County incessantly, but not about how unwelcome non-Jews are in ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods and how the non-Yeshiva contingent of children in East Ramapo are being deprived an appropriate education. Aron Wieder has systematically denied the poor behavior of many of his minions, crying racism in every criticism. 

Legislator Wieder avidly supports Christopher St. Lawrence whose actions have nearly bankrupted Ramapo.

The New York State Assembly needs Aron Wieder like a “hole in the head.”

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Frum Monsey Residents – Lawsuits Against Developer



For First Time, Frum Monsey Residents File Lawsuit Against Frum Developer

In the first action of its kind in Rockland County, New York, a group of frum residents in Monsey have brought a lawsuit against a frum developer with the approval of daas Torah, seeking a stop work order, an injunction against further building and other relief, has learned. 

The action was brought in New York Supreme Court in Putnam County against Town of Ramapo Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence, Chief Building Inspector Anthony Mallia and the owner/developer of the property, Viola Gardens, LLC.

The suit alleges that the owner, builder and other professionals behind Viola Gardens are intentionally constructing the condominium project, named Viola Estates and situated on Viola Road across from Ramapo High School, in violation of local zoning, building and other laws.
The alleged violations include exceeding the maximum density allowed by law and illegally building double or triple the number of apartments approved by the town.
Plaintiffs, three neighbors of the project, reluctantly brought suit after trying unsuccessfully to resolve these issues directly with the developer, who refused to build in compliance with the downzoning he already received from the town, and after the town and building inspector failed to act to enforce the laws.
A complaint was also filed with the NY Attorney General, who oversees all condominium projects in the state.

RAMAPO’S CSL – Heckled at First Meeting Since Indictment and More



Bloc Supported Christopher St. Lawrence Heckled at First Public Meeting Since Indictment

See video:


The Journal News:

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.

Ramapo Town Council Special Meeting devolves as residents voice anger at supervisor


“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.

Ramapo Town Officials SEC Press Release



SEC: Town Officials in New York Hid Financial Troubles From Bond Investors

04/14/2016 11:00 AM EDT


“The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced fraud charges against Ramapo, N.Y., its local development corporation, and four town officials who allegedly hid a deteriorating financial situation from their municipal bond investors.

The SEC alleges that Ramapo officials resorted to fraud to hide the strain in the town’s finances caused by the approximately $60 million cost to build a baseball stadium as well as the town’s declining sales and property tax revenues.  They cooked the books of the town’s primary operating fund to falsely depict positive balances between $1.4 million and $4.2 million during a six-year period when the town had actually accumulated balance deficits as high as nearly $14 million.  And because the stadium bonds issued by the Ramapo Local Development Corp. (RLDC) were guaranteed by the town, certain officials also masked an operating revenue shortfall at the RLDC and investors were unaware the town would likely need to subsidize those bond payments and further deplete its general fund.

According to the SEC’s complaint, inflated general fund balances were used in offering materials for 16 municipal bond offerings by Ramapo or the RLDC to investors, who consider the condition of a municipality’s general fund when making investment decisions.  After town supervisor Christopher P. St. Lawrence purposely misled a credit rating agency about the town’s general fund balance before certain bonds were rated, he told other town officials to refinance the short-term debt as fast as possible because “we’re going to all have to be magicians” to realize the purported financial results.

“Retail investors account for more than 75 percent of the $3.7 trillion municipal bond market, which is critical for our nation’s infrastructure and development,” said Andrew J. Ceresney, Director of the SEC Enforcement Division.  “We won’t stand for public officials and employees who resort to alleged accounting trickery to mislead investors who are investing in their financial futures as well as the future betterment of our communities.”

According to the SEC’s complaint:

  • Christopher P. St. Lawrence, who served as RLDC’s president in addition to being town supervisor, masterminded the scheme to artificially inflate the balance of the general fund in financial statements for fiscal years 2009 to 2014.
  • St. Lawrence and Aaron Troodler, a former RLDC executive director and assistant town attorney, concealed from investors that RLDC’s operating revenues were insufficient to cover debt service on bonds to finance the stadium.
  • Town attorney Michael Klein helped conceal outstanding liabilities related to the baseball stadium and repeatedly misled the town’s auditors about the collection of a $3.08 million receivable recorded in the town’s general fund for the sale of a 13.7-acre parcel of land to the RLDC.  But because the title of the property was never transferred from the town to the RLDC, Klein also made misleading statements about the receivable’s source.
  • Troodler helped conceal the fictitious sale and boost the account balance of the town’s general fund by approving RLDC financial statements reflecting a purchase of property that never actually occurred.  Troodler also signed offering documents that contained an additional fabricated receivable totaling $3.66 million for another transfer of land from the town to the RLDC.  The only land transferred from the town to the RLDC during the time of the purported transaction was property donated for the baseball stadium, which St. Lawrence and Troodler knew did not impose any payment obligation on the RLDC.
  • The town’s deputy finance director Nathan Oberman participated in activities to inflate the town’s general fund by arranging $12.4 million in improper transfers from an ambulance fund to bolster the troubled general fund during a six-year period.

In a parallel action, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York today announced criminal charges against St. Lawrence and Troodler.

“We allege that Ramapo’s senior-most officials concealed the true condition of the town’s declining finances to avoid further political fallout from the construction of the baseball stadium,” said LeeAnn Ghazil Gaunt, Chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s Public Finance Abuse Unit, which was previously known as the Municipal Securities and Public Pensions Unit.

The SEC’s complaint charges Ramapo, RLDC, St. Lawrence, Troodler, Klein, and Oberman with violations of Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5.  St. Lawrence and Troodler also are charged with liability under Section 20(a) of the Exchange Act as controlling persons for the violations by the town and RLDC, and all four town officials are charged with aiding and abetting violations by the town and RLDC.  In addition to financial penalties, the SEC seeks a court order appointing an independent consultant for Ramapo and RLDC to recommend improvements for financial reporting and municipal securities disclosure policies and monitor the mandated implementation of those recommendations for a period of five years.  The SEC also seeks an order prohibiting the town officials from participating in future municipal bond offerings.

The SEC’s continuing investigation is being conducted by Daniel M. Loss and Celeste A. Chase of the New York office and Creighton L. Papier of the Public Finance Abuse Unit with assistance from Jonathan Wilcox, Louis Randazzo and Mark R. Zehner from the Public Finance Abuse Unit.  The SEC’s litigation will be led by Alexander M. Vasilescu and Mr. Loss.  The case is being supervised by Sanjay Wadhwa and Ms. Gaunt.  The SEC appreciates the assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Rockland County District Attorney’s Office in New York. “

Ramapo’s Christopher St. Lawrence Indictment

LostMessiah, April 14, 2016




– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – X




– v – :


CHRISTOPHER ST. LAWRENCE, and : 16 Cr. ______




Defendants. :


– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – X


(Conspiracy to Commit Securities Fraud)

The Grand Jury charges:


1. At all times relevant to this Indictment:

Relevant Entities

a. The Town of Ramapo (the “Town”) was an incorporated municipality in Rockland County, New York. It was governed by an elected Town Supervisor and an elected Town Board. The Town was authorized by state law to issue bonds to the public. As of August 2015, the Town had $128,150,000 in outstanding bonds, not including bonds for which the Town had guaranteed the payment of principal and interest.