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New York - U.S. Attorney Throws The Book At Ramapo Supervisor; Additional Charges Levied As SEC Names More Ramapo Officials

Published on: April 14, 2016 01:11 PM
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Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, speaks at a press conference in Manhattan April 14, 2016, to announce a securities fraud case against officials in the town of Ramapo, New York, for defrauding investors. The FBI has arrested the town supervisor of Ramapo, New York, whose municipal bonds have been at the center of an investigation of potential securities violations, an agency spokeswoman said on Thursday.  REUTERS/Nate Raymond Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, speaks at a press conference in Manhattan April 14, 2016, to announce a securities fraud case against officials in the town of Ramapo, New York, for defrauding investors. The FBI has arrested the town supervisor of Ramapo, New York, whose municipal bonds have been at the center of an investigation of potential securities violations, an agency spokeswoman said on Thursday.  REUTERS/Nate Raymond

New York - U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara had harsh words for Town of Ramapo Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence and Aaron Troodler, former assistant attorney for the Town of Ramapo and executive director of the Ramapo Local Development Corporation, charging the pair with 22 counts of fraud and conspiracy in connection with municipal bonds issued by the town and the RLDC to finance the construction of a minor league baseball stadium in Ramapo.

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The arrest of the two men was the culmination of a joint effort between the U.S. Attorney’s office, the FBI, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Rockland County District Attorney’s office.  In his remarks at a press conference this morning in Manhattan, Bharara described the case as what is believed to be the first time that a public official has ever been charged with municipal bond related securities fraud.

“As alleged, Christopher St. Lawrence and N. Aaron Troodler kicked truth and transparency to the curb, selling over $150 million of municipal bonds on fabricated financials,” announced Bharara.  “In doing so they defrauded both the citizens of Ramapo and thousands of municipal bond investors around the country.”

Bharara further admonished the two men saying, “You are not allowed to cook the books, plain and simple.  And whether you are a state legislator responsible for enacting laws or a municipal executive responsible for a town’s finances, you must be accountable. You must be accountable to the public and you must be accountable to the truth.”

The indictment unsealed today alleges that St. Lawrence repeatedly padded the numbers of the town’s primary operating fund, known as the General fund, which is reserved for emergency usage and also serves as a primary indicator of the town’s financial health.  St. Lawrence and Troodler overstated the balance in Ramapo’s General fund when the RLDC issued $25 million in bonds to build Provident Bank Park in 2011, deliberately giving investors the impression that the town had the assets to guarantee both the payments and the interest on the bonds, when in fact the General fund actually had a negative balance.

Andrew Cereseny, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission's enforcement director, speaks at a press conference in Manhattan April 14, 2016, to announce a securities fraud case against officials in the town of Ramapo, New York, for defrauding investors. The FBI has arrested the town supervisor of Ramapo, New York, whose municipal bonds have been at the center of an investigation of potential securities violations, an agency spokeswoman said on Thursday.   REUTERS/Nate Raymond Andrew Cereseny, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission's enforcement director, speaks at a press conference in Manhattan April 14, 2016, to announce a securities fraud case against officials in the town of Ramapo, New York, for defrauding investors. The FBI has arrested the town supervisor of Ramapo, New York, whose municipal bonds have been at the center of an investigation of potential securities violations, an agency spokeswoman said on Thursday.  REUTERS/Nate Raymond

As of August 2015, the Town of Ramapo had over $128 million in outstanding bonds issued for several municipal projects, which included the stadium bonds.  While some of the town’s outstanding debt was caused by St. Lawrence falsifying the balance of the General fund in numerous instances dating back as far as 2009 and precedes the construction of Provident Bank Park, much of the town’s shortfall is a direct result of the $58 million cost of the stadium project.

The indictment also alleges that St. Lawrence and Troodler told investors that revenue from the stadium and sales at an associated condominium were being used to make payments on the bonds that were issued. Those statements were designed to give the impression that as the guarantor, the town would not be responsible for the $25 million in bonds and also served to minimize the perceived risk associated with the RLDC bonds.  In fact, those bond payments were being made either with money from the Town of Ramapo’s coffers or money that had been borrowed from the bank.

Both St. Lawrence and Troodler, who has since moved from Spring Valley to Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania, have been charged with eight counts of securities fraud, 13 counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy.  Each of the securities and wire fraud charges, carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. The conspiracy charge carries a maximum prison sentence of five years.

The Securities and Exchange Commission levied charges of its own against St. Lawrence,  Troodler, Ramapo town attorney Michael Klein and Ramapo deputy finance director Nathan Oberman in a civil action today at the U.S. District Court in White Plains.  A complaint filed by the SEC named St. Lawrence as the mastermind of a scheme to cook the Towns books and said that Troodler hid the fact that the RDLC could not cover its payment on the stadium bonds from investors. 

The complaint charged Klein with misleading town auditors about the collection of a $3.08 million receivable that had been recorded in the town’s general fund and said that Oberman played a part in inflating the town’s general fund balance over a six year period, arranging $12.4 million in improper transfers from an ambulance fund.
“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.”

In a statement released today, Ramapo’s deputy supervisor Patrick Withers described the nature and extent of the charges as “shocking.”

“Every public official has a sacred responsibility to conduct themselves well within the confines of our laws,” said Withers. “The charges unveiled today shake the foundation of that principle and the faith of the people of Ramapo.  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.”


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Read Comments (19)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Apr 14, 2016 at 01:47 PM WiseDude Says:

This is a huge Chillul Hashem for the frum Jewish community in Monsey which supports St. Lawrence even as they knew, to a man, that he was a crook. The frum community is tied in with St. Lawrence, even as St. Lawrence was the most hated man in Rockland.

2

 Apr 14, 2016 at 01:48 PM LionofZion Says:

I know the guy is crooked, but WHY? everything about it is minor league. The stadium, the players and the Machers who created it all. And we get to pay the bills.

3

 Apr 14, 2016 at 02:12 PM kenyaninwhitehouse Says:

there has to be more people than these 4, give it time more arrests will happen in all communities in Rockland county.

4

 Apr 14, 2016 at 02:27 PM rabbilegacy Says:

How Sad. WE ARE TO BLAIM.! Hello...Yes, WE ARE TO BLAIM FOR THIS!. We had a town supervisor who really stuck out his neck to address the needs of his constituents. Unlike his predecessors he exhibited no malice and was in no way condescending to the ultra religious segments of the Ramapo community. He crafted a zoning plan that accommodated the needs of the majority of homeowners in the Chasidic neighborhoods while preserving the rustic and bucolic nature of others. He is by all accounts an Oheiv Yisroel. Our dear fellow yiden descended into a morass of squabbling, mesira and infighting! Nothing was off limits. I am sure that the indictment reflects charges of things that are practiced by townships that wish to float bond offerings all over the country but thier inflated numbers and projections remain 'under the rug'. He was raked over the coals and scrutinized because our fellow Jews could not forgive their fellow Jews. Folks....ITS TIME TO LOOK INWARDS. A kosheren zissen Pesach.

5

 Apr 14, 2016 at 02:44 PM white_socks Says:

Reply to #1  
WiseDude Says:

This is a huge Chillul Hashem for the frum Jewish community in Monsey which supports St. Lawrence even as they knew, to a man, that he was a crook. The frum community is tied in with St. Lawrence, even as St. Lawrence was the most hated man in Rockland.

wisedude why don't you change your name to Jew hater dude

6

 Apr 14, 2016 at 02:55 PM MMNSY Says:

Reply to #1  
WiseDude Says:

This is a huge Chillul Hashem for the frum Jewish community in Monsey which supports St. Lawrence even as they knew, to a man, that he was a crook. The frum community is tied in with St. Lawrence, even as St. Lawrence was the most hated man in Rockland.

I am not going into details of this particular story. But most of the haters are natural anti Semites. Yes, rockland is infested with anti-Semites. It is very well known. Ask any insider. So voting for preserve ramapo wasn't ideal either.

7

 Apr 14, 2016 at 03:03 PM Anonymous Says:

3 out of the 4 arrested so far are frum. That says much about us.

8

 Apr 14, 2016 at 03:27 PM Anonymous Says:

When we get caught, we cry antisemitism. This is major fraud. Use antisemitism for Hitler advocates.
Dozens of frum are about to be arrested.

9

 Apr 14, 2016 at 03:29 PM bennyt Says:

Reply to #7  
Anonymous Says:

3 out of the 4 arrested so far are frum. That says much about us.

And the 4th one eats Levy's Rye Bread.

10

 Apr 14, 2016 at 04:19 PM Monsey Yid Says:

Reply to #5  
white_socks Says:

wisedude why don't you change your name to Jew hater dude

He stated some facts. You are just name calling. You are just as pathetic as the Mr. BLAIM guy above.
This guy was a crook and was supported by all the local rabbonim.
EMBARASSING!!!

11

 Apr 14, 2016 at 04:51 PM Dctrd Says:

To all commenters who blame us for voting for St. Lawrence: you need professional intervention. Blaming yourself for St. Lawrence's crimes or for voting for him is a sign of baseless guilt that you can blame your individual self for, but don't you dare blame the frum community collectively. Don't include me and the general public in your psychosis.
I'm proud to have voted for him until now and it was my duty to vote for him as he was an outstanding advocate for us and our needs. I didn't cause or enable his crimes because I voted for him. That is his

12

 Apr 14, 2016 at 05:08 PM Dctrd Says:

As a side note, the headline of this article is journalistically erroneous. A D.A. cannot throw the book at anyone. Only a judge can "throw the book" at a convict when sentencing him or her.

13

 Apr 14, 2016 at 05:37 PM allmark Says:

I don't understand why it was so important for St. Lawrence to build the stadium. Did he do it so he could steal during construction? Just not sure why go to all this trouble for a minor league ballpark?

14

 Apr 14, 2016 at 05:56 PM hashomer Says:

I work in a regional business where no one wants to do deals with any frum folks. Gentile or secular Jews alike. Because of corruption, phony money, lack of ethics. I find myself trying to explain away all the problems caused by the community, to no avail. What is going on in the community that this has happened?

15

 Apr 14, 2016 at 06:59 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #11  
Dctrd Says:

To all commenters who blame us for voting for St. Lawrence: you need professional intervention. Blaming yourself for St. Lawrence's crimes or for voting for him is a sign of baseless guilt that you can blame your individual self for, but don't you dare blame the frum community collectively. Don't include me and the general public in your psychosis.
I'm proud to have voted for him until now and it was my duty to vote for him as he was an outstanding advocate for us and our needs. I didn't cause or enable his crimes because I voted for him. That is his

You are at fault because you knew when you voted for him the second time that the fbi had raided his offices and that the rabbonim told everyone they Must vote for him! The rabbonim only vote for crooks.

16

 Apr 14, 2016 at 09:54 PM Anonymous Says:

One of my neighbors is a former fbi agent. The bloc are doing many illegal things. We are fortunate to have a direct line to this neighbor. St. Lawrence messed with the wrong crowd and we're thrilled troodler is going to jail with him.

17

 Apr 14, 2016 at 08:00 PM LionofZion Says:

I voted for preserve Ramapo. Better an outspoken Jew hater than a supposed Jew lover, who really just loves paving things over.

18

 Apr 14, 2016 at 10:36 PM Dctrd Says:

Reply to #15  
Anonymous Says:

You are at fault because you knew when you voted for him the second time that the fbi had raided his offices and that the rabbonim told everyone they Must vote for him! The rabbonim only vote for crooks.

Your last statement, which is a false premise and a purely bigoted opinion, makes it obvious why I was correct to call people who say things like that "psychotic".
In fact, my original statement provides the logic as to why I absolutely should have voted for him the second time around. I'll explain so you don't have to borrow someone else's brain. By the time St. Lawrence ran the second time he had already proven himself as a selfless oheiv yisroel who stood out in the wilderness of Rockland politics that consists of mostly Jew haters, (yes, they exist. Some frum people are only providing them with an excuse. get the difference?) and fearlessly stood up for us. Furthermore, It's called hakaros hatov.
Most importantly, in this great country of ours an individual is innocent until proven guilty. Do you get it? and when he was running the second time he hadn't even been charged/arraigned yet; he hasn't even been found guilty as of now. Wait till you are in the hot seat with possibly false charges against you. I'll be sitting comfortably in your vacated current seat and will certainly enjoy the spectacle. I know it's a lot to absorb at once; take your time reading it.

19

 Apr 15, 2016 at 11:18 AM RocklandRes Says:

Copied from a LoHUD commenter - pretty much says it all:

The only reason why a stadium was built for a team one level above Bar League was as a justification to sell bonds. The stadium cost 65 million, they sold 150 million in bonds, where did the othe 85 million go to? Some no doubt went to underwrite the Ultraorthodox steered Elm Street Condos also run by Ramapo LDC other money went to pay other projects

St. Lawrence and crew were robbing Peter to pay Paul in a Municiple Bond Ponzi scheme. Not all the dominoes have fallen yet

20

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