“Disgraced former Ramapo town Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence is scheduled to start prison life on Thursday.
St. Lawrence, of Wesley Hills, faces 30 months behind bars at a federal penitentiary. His sentence could be shortened by 54 days per year for good behavior under federal rules, which prohibit parole.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons cannot say where St. Lawrence will serve his time until he reports.
A jury convicted the former Ramapo political powerhouse in May of 20 counts of securities and wire fraud, and conspiracy. U.S. District Judge Cathy Seibel sentenced the 67-year-old St. Lawrence in December to 2 1/2 years in prison and a $75,000 fine.
Burke filed notice to appeal but no legal papers outlining his case. He has claimed St. Lawrence was the victim of judicial errors and insufficient evidence. Seibel denied Burke’s motion to vacate the conviction.
Burke didn’t return telephone calls and emails Tuesday seeking comment. St. Lawrence could not be reached and had stopped speaking to the media during his trial.
After the conviction, Burke said he believed his post-trial motions and appeal would be successful.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office confirmed that St. Lawrence was scheduled to report to prison on Thursday. People convicted of non-violent federal crimes are often given time to get their personal affairs in order before reporting to prison.
Michael Castelluccio, a long-time St. Lawrence opponent with the activist group Preserve Ramapo, noted that imprisonment comes during the week to mark government transparency.
“How ironically appropriate that the country is celebrating Sunshine Week, commemorating the Open Meeting and Freedom of Information laws at the same time that St. Lawrence is packing for prison,” Castelluccio said. “He certainly did whatever he could to hide what he and his collaborators were doing during his tenure as supervisor.”
Jurors returned guilty verdicts on 11 wire-fraud counts, eight counts of securities fraud and one of conspiracy after a nearly monthlong trial. They acquitted St. Lawrence of one count each of securities fraud and wire fraud.
The fraud counts carry prison terms of 20 years, while conspiracy carries a five-year term. Seibel sentenced St. Lawrence based on federal guidelines and her discretion.
St. Lawrence’s conviction automatically ended his nearly 17-year reign as Ramapo’s top elected official. He served nearly one four-year term on the Rockland County Legislature when appointed supervisor to succeed Herbert Reisman in 2000.
Federal court papers show that St. Lawrence will get an annual state pension of $46,970 based on 19.35 years of service and a final salary of $145,645 as supervisor. The yearly payment comes to $3,914 a month.
St. Lawrence, who did not testify during the trial, was not accused of personally profiting from his alleged schemes, including lying about bonds toward the town’s $60 million baseball stadium.
Instead, the federal case focused on the complex concept that he ripped off investors in connection with fabricated financial figures and lies on the sales of municipal bonds issued by the town and the Ramapo Local Development Corp., the town’s economic development arm, which sought bonds for development projects.
He fabricated receivables to bolster the town’s financial health and fund balance in an effort to get a better credit rating and lower interest rate on bonds, which financed the stadium and other infrastructure projects. In doing so, St. Lawrence cheated bond buyers who didn’t get as high a profit on their bond purchases.
Acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim said the prosecution upheld the integrity of the bond market.
“As the jury found today after trial, Christopher St. Lawrence lied repeatedly to the investing public about the state of Ramapo’s finances,” Kim said after the verdict. “The integrity of the $3.7 trillion municipal bond market is of critical importance to both investors and municipalities that rely on this market. The verdict today, in a case of public corruption meets securities fraud, stands as a victory for both honest government and fair financial markets.”
Ramapo still has not obtained audits of its financial books for 2015, 2016 and 2017, with the potential for several million dollars in deficit from the St. Lawrence era. Town Supervisor Michael Specht has said the forensic accountants are finishing their work.”
Read the complete Journal News story here.