US Attorney details charges against St. Lawrence

(4/14/16)

NEW YORK - A three-year investigation into corruption in Rockland County has resulted in charges against high ranking officials in the town of Ramapo.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara announced a 22-count indictment today that named Ramapo Town Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence and N. Aaron Troodler, who is the former executive director of the Ramapo Local Development Corporation.

Bharara says that the two men have been indicted on charges of securities fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy in connection with municipal bonds. This is believed to be the first municipal bond-related securities fraud prosecution ever.

When the investigation began, FBI agents and detectives from the Rockland County District Attorney's Office seized boxes of documents and computer hard drives from Town Hall offices. They took records from the finance department and the offices of the supervisor, town attorney and tax departments. And according to federal officials, St. Lawrence and Troodler continued alleged illegal activities regarding Ramapo town finances even after that raid on town hall occurred.

The Securities and Exchange Commission also announced fraud charges against St. Lawrence, Troodler, Ramapo Town attorney Michael Klein and the town's deputy finance director Nathan Oberman. 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. In a statement, the SEC charges that the men, “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.”

Bharara says the investigation into the financial corruption is ongoing. He says a “whistleblower” tipped authorities off to the crimes.

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