Rockland County, NY - FBI Arrests Ramapo Town Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence
Rockland County, NY - Almost three years after an FBI raid swept through the Ramapo Town Hall, federal agents and officials from the district attorney’s office have arrested Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence for violating federal laws in the financing of Provident Bank Park in Pomona.
The 4,500 seat ballpark was constructed in 2012, two years after voters in Ramapo rejected a $16.5 million plan to build the facility by a wide margin, according to Journal News reports.
While St. Lawrence vowed not to use town funding to build the stadium, he used the town to guarantee a $25 million bond issued to a local development corporation over a five year period, allowing him to sidestep the need for a public vote. A legal challenge to the bond was upheld by a state judge, allowing for construction to continue.
While the stadium’s price tag was originally projected at $20 to $25 million, it turned into a $60 million project according to an audit by Comptroller Thomas Di Napoli.
DiNapoli’s office found that the town had “inappropriately mingled its activities” with the local development corporation created to build the park and warned in 2012 that despite having originally rejected the proposal, taxpayers could still be left footing the $60 million bill.
“Ramapo officials ignored red flag the project numbers didn’t add up which could adversely impact its finances for years to come,” stated the audit.
An audit by accountants for the Town of Ramapo found that the local development corporation that financed the stadium showed a loss of $600,000 in 2013.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara had been working with the FBI and U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on the case and civil charges for violations of federal law may also be forthcoming.
It is unclear whether St. Lawrence would be able to continue as supervisor. Deputy Supervisor Patrick Withers, a retired NYPD officer who opposed the stadium project, said that that the town government would continue to operate as usual. Withers said that St. Lawrence’s arrest casts a pall over Ramapo.
“While the criminal charges filed are not a surprise, coming as they are on the heels of a multi-year federal investigation, the nature and extent of the charges are shocking,” said Withers.
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