Journal News coverage of day 11 of the trial,
May 5, 2017
“Federal prosecutors continue adding pieces to their allegations that Ramapo Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence fabricated revenues and manipulated taxpayer funds to get better interest rates for financing the town’s baseball stadium and other projects.
Prosecutor Daniel Loss on Friday morning walked the town’s one-time financial advisor, Pranipat Subarma of Environmental Capital, through a series of bond documents dating to 2012. She worked on Ramapo’s bonds from 2010 to 2015, including for the estimated $60 million baseball stadium financed partially through taxpayer funds and the Ramapo Commons condominium complex on Elm Street outside Spring Valley.
Prosecutors contend several million dollars in false revenues were added to bond documents signed by St. Lawrence pledging to their accuracy. Like previous witnesses, Subarma testified that St. Lawrence was the source of financial information used by credit rating agencies like Moody’s Investors Service and bond offerings bought by investors.
Key testimony: Moleston Fire District Commissioner Gary Wren opened the day’s testimony, discussing the town’s sale of property on Route 45 to the district for construction of a Hillcrest firehouse.
The RLDC obtained the property for $380,000 through a bank foreclosure of a company owned by Joseph Klein, a New Square resident often accused of being a slumlord and fined for housing code violations in several municipalities. Rundown housing sat on the site.
Wren, a supervisor for the town Sewer Department and volunteer firefighter since 1969, said St. Lawrence offered him a 5 percent discount on the $1.5 million price if the district closed by March 1, 2014. He said St. Lawrence originally offered to sell the land to Moleston, which is supported by Ramapo taxpayers, for $600,000.
The price soon jumped to $1.5 million, Wren said. Prosecutors said St. Lawrence needed to the money from the land sale to make payments on bonds for RLDC projects. The town used its taxing authority to guarantee payments of RLDC debts even if the agency didn’t repay the town.
Wren said the closing came a few weeks into March 2014. He said the fire district had to get approval from taxpayers.
“I can’t pull a check out of thin air,” Wren said. “We had to go through procedures, get approvals from the board and ask for approval from our taxpayers.”
Prosecutors claim St. Lawrence misused taxpayer money and including phantom revenues to cover shortfalls in the town budget general fund and the RLDC’s inability to make enough money off baseball stadium revenues and sales of the Ramapo Commons condominiums to make bond payments.
At the end of court Friday after the jury was dismissed, Seibel and the attorneys discussed a witness who would invoke fifth amendments rights against self-incrimination.
They said the witness was sitting outside the courtroom. Seibel decided the witness wouldreturn Monday morning. Sitting outside the courtroom was Ramapo Town Attorney Michael Klein and his lawyer. Klein declined comment.
Up next: Ramapo financial advisor Pranipat Subarma continues testifying on Monday.”
Read the complete Journal News coverage here.