“Bernard Charles, an East Ramapo school board trustee, spouse of Ramapo’s deputy supervisor, and former town employee has been charged with grand larceny and criminal impersonation after the Rockland District Attorney’s Office said he attempted to rent out the town’s Cultural Arts Center and pocket the more than $1,000 fee.
In the past, Charles has managed bookings at the Cultural Arts Center, located on Main Street in Spring Valley.
The 65-year-old Spring Valley resident was arrested Friday morning and charged with fourth-degree grand larceny, a felony, and second-degree criminal impersonation, a misdemeanor, according to Rockland County Chief Assistant District Attorney Dominic Crispino.
“He is accused of pretending to be an employee of the town of Ramapo,” Crispino said. He had no permission to enter into a rental agreement for use of the Cultural Arts Center. “He is not a town of Ramapo employee,” Crispino said.
Crispino declined to identify who tried to rent the theater and did not provide information about when or where the alleged rental agreement took place.
Charles is due in Spring Valley Justice Court for arraignment on Jan. 21. He was released without bail.
Political and patronage posts
Charles has long been part of Ramapo’s political fabric.
An East Ramapo school board trustee, he is serving his third elected term, which will expire in 2022. Charles also serves an appointed position on the Rockland BOCES board. The positions are unpaid. Under state education law, board members may be removed from office either by the commissioner of education or the school board.
A BOCES spokesman said Charles’ arrest was unrelated to the organization and declined further comment.
Charles has held various jobs and offices in the Village of Spring Valley and Town of Ramapo.
In 2014, Charles got in hot water for working as a consultant for the Town of Ramapo while he was also employed by the Village of Spring Valley as parks and recreation director. When questioned how he could fulfill both roles, he said he worked seven days a week.
That year, Charles left both jobs to join the Town of Ramapo Parks Department — a job that had been empty for five years prior to Charles’ appointment.
In 2018, Charles had to give up that town parks job after failing a civil-service exam. He was then hired by the Ramapo Local Development Corporation, the town’s economic development arm, to a non-civil service post. The RLDC’s board is made up of the Town Board members.
Charles’ duties included promoting the town-owned stadium in Pomona where the New York Boulders baseball team plays. The stadium, which cost close to $60 million to build, had long been seen as a drain on town finances and stain on its reputation. The stadium, now called Palisades Credit Union Park, was the focal point of the federal securities fraud case against former Ramapo Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence, who was found guilty and sent to prison for fudging numbers to lure investors.
Charles was appointed Spring Valley village trustee in December 2017 by newly elected Mayor Alan Simon. He sought to get on the 2018 ballot but was kicked off the primary ballot after challenges to his petitions.“
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