Supervisor Hoehmann – “St. Lawrences’s Position On The Sewer District and Solid Waste Boards Is Untenable”.
As reported in the Journal News …. “Ramapo Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence returned to work, one day after his arrest on federal criminal charges tied to the financing of the town’s controversial baseball stadium and other projects through its economic development agency.
Both St. Lawrence and Aaron Troodler, the former executive director of the Ramapo Local Development Corporation and once an assistant town attorney, pleaded not guilty to 22 charges of federal securities fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy charges for allegedly selling $150 million in municipal bonds based on fabricated town financial documents.
They and two others – Town Attorney Michael Klein and deputy finance director Nate Oberman (who said: “You do not have to do the right thing here, you have to play ball and make the supervisor happy.” ) – also face related civil charges brought by the federal Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC can issue financial penalties and sanctions upon convictions.
“I have no comment, I pleaded not guilty and I look for my day in court. Thank you,” St. Lawrence told reporters as he exited the federal courthouse in White Plains shortly after 5 p.m. He did not respond to their questions, including: “How are you going to run the town?”
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said the dawn arrest of St. Lawrence marked the first time the U.S. Attorney’s Office has charged elected officials with crimes under SEC laws, “but I suspect, it will not be the last.“”
A number of St. Lawrence’s Democratic colleagues including Congresswoman Nita Lowey, Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee, Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski, and Senator David Carlucci have called for him to resign as Supervisor of the Town of Ramapo.
To date St. Lawrence has ignored all such calls and has continued with his hubris in leading the town into further future financial damage. Already, the bond rating agencies are moving to downgrade the Town of Ramapo which means the Town will have great difficulty refinancing its bonds or issuing new bonds at interest rates that are anything short of exorbitant for the taxpayers of Ramapo.
The Rockland County Sewer District #1 has been the subject of numerous articles about how its tax monies may have also been used improperly one example being the now-defunct proposal to use Sewer District bonds to build a police garage in the Town of Clarkstown when former Supervisor Gromack was in office.
Clearly, given the charges against Supervisor St. Lawrence brought by the SEC specifically that he committed fraud with respect to bond offerings, it is impossible for him to continue as the Chief Executive Officer of any organization that finances its operations with publicly issued bonds.
On April 18th, 2016 speaking on his regular call-in to WRCR’s Morning Show with Steve Possell, Clarkstown Supervisor Hoehmann stated that he will be “encouraging” Supervisor St. Lawrence of to step down from his chairmanship of the Rockland County Sewer District #1 Board which has outstanding bonded debt of approximately $197 million dollars.
The following is Supervisor Hoehmann’s response to a question about Hoehmann’s actions as they pertain to his participation as a commissioner on the Sewer District Board.
Caller: Good Morning, Mr. Hoehmann. As supervisor of Clarkstown you are automatically placed as a commissioner on both the Rockland County Sewer District #1 and the Solid Waste Authority, both of which are chaired by Christopher St. Lawrence. The Sewer District, in particular, has really been a disaster. In addition to a $1 million fine it got for polluting into New Jersey and an eminent domain case where the Sewer District had valued a property at just under $250,000 and it was then valued by a court at nearly $9 million – when that was all said and done the taxpayers were on the hook for roughly $12.7 million.
I would like to know your thoughts on how you can be comfortable serving on those two boards and how you can go forward with CSL as the chairman and would you support a forensic audit of the Sewer District in particular?
Hoehmann: Let me be clear – the allegations in the charges that were leveled last week against the supervisor from Ramapo are disturbing, deeply troubling and I think that there is a path of action that needs to take place.
I can tell you that I do serve by virtue of my office as Supervisor of Clarkstown as a member of the Solid Waste Authority and also I was recently confirmed in my appointment by the Legislature with Sewer District #1.
Tomorrow morning, the Executive Board of which I am now a member as the Supervisor of Clarkstown for the Solid Waste Authority is meeting along with Mr. St. Lawrence and I expect that after that meeting he will probably make some decisions as to his future engagement.
What is very troubling about this is what was lost in some of the media coverage which focused (more) on the indictment. What is really problematic are the SEC (Securities and Exchange) charges because the ‘relief’ that the SEC is seeking is a financial monitor within the Town of Ramapo and the barring of Mr. St. Lawrence and other individuals within the Town of Ramapo from any involvement with bonding.
So I believe based on the SEC action it makes his position on those boards untenable. I would expect that Mr. St. Lawrence would probably step aside and I will certainly be encouraging him to do so.
Later in the evening at a Clarktown Town Board meeting Hoehmann indicated that he would be requesting a forensic audit of the Sewer District’s financial books.