St. Lawrence trial day 14, May 10, 2017
Following is The Journal News coverage
“The whistleblower in Christopher St. Lawrence’s federal corruption trial testified Wednesday that she alerted the town’s auditors about fraud in Ramapo’s finances.
In her second day on the witness stand, Melissa Reimer, the town’s suspended supervisor of fiscal services and budget director, said she was questioned by a representative of PKF O’Connor Davies.
“I told her there was fraud in the town and the auditors were involved,” Reimer said she told Stacy Morton of the auditing firm during an April 2012 interview.
Morton was “a little shocked” by her response, she said.
Reimer said this led to an angry call from PKF O’Connor Davies partner Dominick Consolo.
“He yelled at me,” she said under questioning from prosecutor James McMahon. “He told me I’m scaring his staff and I can’t be accusing the company of fraud.”
Consolo subsequently agreed to pay a $75,000 penalty and be suspended from practicing accounting. This was part of a settlement the auditing firm reached with federal prosecutors for issuing fraudulent audit reports in connection with municipal bonds sought by Ramapo to build its baseball stadium.
Before filling out a questionnaire from PKF O’Connor Davies, also in April 2012, she went to her boss, Nat Oberman.
“Nat told me to fill it out nicely, and don’t talk about fraud,” Reimer said. She wrote that there was no fraud, but added: “But if I asked Town Attorney Michael Klein if something was fraudulent, he’d say no, it’s fine.”
Reimer also testified Wednesday that St. Lawrence ordered money from other funds be transferred to the general fund to boost revenues.
She said the supervisor had Oberman and purchasing director and town Democratic chair Mona Montal come up with a spreadsheet to transfer 10 percent of other funds to the town’s general fund. That wasn’t enough, so he added another 2.5 percent, she said.
“I wanted nothing to do with that,” Reimer said.
Reimer also described how St. Lawrence floated the idea of making a land transfer from the town’s Ramapo Commons development to cover a $3.080 million hole created when the deal to sell another development, The Hamlets, fell through.
She was against the move.
“How can you sell one piece of property and have a different piece of property for the same amount of money and have it remain on the books,” she said. “It doesn’t make sense, the whole idea.”
Key testimony: Reimer also testified Wednesday that St. Lawrence dipped into the town’s ambulance, water, sewer and other funds to cover a deficit.
“He’d have a number in his head and he’d say, ‘this is what I’d like the fund balance to be’ and he would suggest moving money from the other funds into the general fund,” Reimer said of St. Lawrence.
At one point there was a negative fund balance of $952,000 and St. Lawrence covered it by moving money from other funds, she said.
Reimer is suspended with pay from her $153,000-a-year post following hearings on a set of disciplinary charges against her. She is suing the town as a “whistleblower.”
McMahon asked Reimer about her working relationship with St. Lawrence in April 2013, just before the disciplinary hearings against her began.
“It was not very good,” she said. “It was non-existent. There was no talking.”
McMahon also questioned Reimer about her meeting with a woman named “Raylene,” who Judge Cathy Seibel has previously ruled cannot be identified as a spiritual adviser, as the defense had requested.
” ‘I’m going to take them all down,’ ” Reimer said she told Raylene. “I was very angry. They were bringing me up on fabricated charges.”
She also said at the advice of her attorney, she provided information to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Reimer’s testimony delved into Ramapo’s financial practices, which she said included counting anything payable within 15 months as a receivable.
She also said $3.66 million supposedly generated by the transfer of land from the town to its local development corporation never materialized.
Seibel reminded the jury the town’s accounting errors or methods are not necessarily a crime. She instructed jurors to focus on whether securities fraud, wire fraud or conspiracy was committed.”
At the end of the day tentative plans were made for Thursday, which include playing a 48-minute conference call with Moody’s. This was the first recording made by Melissa Reimer.
The full Journal News coverage, including links to day-by-day coverage can be seen here.