“Spring Valley village Trustee Vilair Fonvil denied stealing money from a summer camp program as he took the stand Thursday during his public corruption trial.
Fonvil, 54, a trustee since December 2013, gave his explanation for a series of cashed checks, and how the summer program was run despite logistical problems under questioning from his attorney, Kevin Dunlap.
Fonvil told the judge he lives off his government salary of $25,000 a year while his wife is paid $115,000 annually as a nurse at a New York City hospital. They have one child. Fonvil said he doesn’t have a bank account in his name because an attorney from a former case has a judgment garnishing his wages for what started as an $80,000 legal bill.
He explained to Rockland County Judge Kevin Russo — who is presiding over the non-jury trial — that people involved with the summer program cashed checks and gave him money to repay him for loans or fronting their salaries. He said the program coordinator, co-defendant Jermika Depas, refused to pay people unless they signed W-2 forms, so he fronted their salaries. He also lent Depas and another village employee money to pay their rent.
The felony charges against Fonvil and Depas include third-degree grand larceny as a crime of public corruption, third-degree corrupting the government, and money laundering. Fonvil faces an additional charge of receiving reward for official misconduct as a public official.
Prosecutor Richard Kennison Moran argued that Fonvil and Depas created a $8,000 slush fund by using village vans rather than a bus company to drive the children to camp and hired only two bus monitors when six were funded by the village.
Moran has told the judge that three people cashed checks for Fonvil and Depas, ostensibly from the $24,225 allocation from the village Board of Trustees. Fonvil later got an additional $3,000 for the summer camp program.
Moran told the judge that the check-cashing enabled a money-laundering operation by Fonvil in which he pocketed an estimated $11,000 he got from the village board to bus village children to summer camps. Depas was hired to run the operation.”
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