St. Lawrence trial Day 17
May 16, 2017 Following is The Journal News court coverage
“Christopher St. Lawrence was willing to lie and commit fraud to pay the cost of building the baseball stadium he wanted so badly, the prosecutor said Tuesday afternoon during closing arguments at the Ramapo town supervisor’s federal corruption trial.
In a two-and-half-hour summation, prosecutor James McMahon said St. Lawrence lied and schemed so the town’s local development corporation could make its payments. “He created fake revenues,” McMahon told the jury.
McMahon said the supervisor started building the stadium before he had any money, then had to fabricate revenue to plug holes.
“He did all this because he needed the money to build the stadium.” McMahon said.
St. Lawrence is accused in a 22-count indictment of manipulating the town’s books to get better rates on bonds to finance the stadium and other projects. He has pleaded not guilty.
McMahon on Tuesday reprised the prosecution’s list of alleged scams, including a $3.66 million transfer from the town to the Ramapo Local Development Corporation for the land the stadium was built on. He pointed out that the RLDC got the land for free, so there shouldn’t have been a charge.
St. Lawrence also hid the fact the town owed a contractor $800,000 to prop up the fund balance.
“The fraud got him the money he needed for the stadium he wanted so badly,” McMahon said.
The prosecution’s closing centered on the lengths it said St. Lawrence went to in order to maintain a positive fund balance.
McMahon referenced an audiotape played during suspended town finance official Melissa Reimer’s testimony on which St. Lawrence laughed about needing to be a magician to make the numbers work after boasting to Moody’s Investors Service about Ramapo’s fiscal health.
McMahon said that was St. Lawrence’s true attitude and mentality when his guard was down.
“He lied repeatedly over an extended period of time,” McMahon said.
McMahon said the town’s official bond statements were filled with lies because the supervisor wanted investors to think its projects were making money.
His control of town finances allowed him to manipulate money, which he did despite being told he was wrong by other town officials, the prosecutor said.
Defense starts closing statement
At the beginning of a closing argument that will conclude Wednesday, defense lawyer Michael Burke pointed out that all the banks and the contractors had been paid for the town’s obligations.
“There is no security fraud, there is no intent of deceiving anyone,” Burke told the jury. “Mr. St. Lawrence is a public servant. Not a single dime, not a penny has gone to Mr. St. Lawrence. He didn’t commit fraud and he didn’t deceive anyone.”
Burke added: “All he did was build a stadium and housing to be a boon to the community.”
The defense attorney blamed Reimer, who had knowledge of the town’s books and revenue, for the problems with the $3.66 million from the stadium’s land sale.
Reimer also disobeyed St. Lawrence’s orders not to use unaudited figures for its bond statements, he noted.
Burke said the town board passed all the resolutions in regards to the stadium and was responsible for its related costs.
He said that Moody’s and other financial officials said the town’s fund balance was not a major issue to them. What was important was the town’s ability to guarantee the bonds.
When Burke’s statement concludes Wednesday, the prosecution will offer a rebuttal.
Afterward Judge Cathy Seibel will instruct the jury on the charges before deliberations begin.
Tuesday was Day 17 of St. Lawrence’s trial in U.S. District Court in White Plains, which started April 20.”
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