An opinion piece by Bob Rhodes, posted on the PreserveRamapo website two years before the arrest of St. Lawrence on April 14, 2016, curiously foreshadowed the charge of “cooking the books” along with other similar details in the presentation by Preet Bharara in Manhattan last week.
Here’s the original piece:
Tip of the Iceberg
April 28, 2014 When a municipality transfers money from one accounting line to another it is supposed to pass a resolution authorizing the transfer. Under exceptional circumstances funds can even be loaned from one tax line to another, but they must be returned by the end of the year (with interest). Thanks to the persistence of Bob Romanowski we now know that $3 million in taxes that we thought we were paying for police services were transferred to the general tax line and never returned.When you are broke and have to meet payroll you do what you have to do. And this is just one example of how Ramapo Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence cooks his books. Have you ever wondered why the cost of our ambulance/paramedic services has been going up so rapidly in recent years? It is because St. Lawrence has been skimming monies from these services and transferring them to the general fund.
Ramapo’s finances were so badly stretched last year that St. Lawrence was forced to introduce a remarkable, and probably illegal, resolution last year. He asked his town board for the right to transfer funds anyway he wanted to without going back to his town board for approval.
So the same board that allowed St. Lawrence to spend $60 or $70 million on a stadium that was supposed to cost $20 million has once again closed its collective eyes and turned its back on its most important political duty, the oversight of town funds.
I wonder how much of the money that is so effortlessly moved around within the town treasury ends up in the pocket of St. Lawrence and his good friends.
Last year, St. Lawrence suspended Melissa Reimer, the head of financial services. What he did not know was that for at least two years Melissa had been recording discussions in town hall related to his strange financial maneuvers. She finally was locked out of her office when she gave the office of the state comptroller information that St. Lawrence did not want disclosed. Fortunately for Melissa, the taxpayers of Ramapo, and the FBI, she has apparently provided substantial information for that esteemed organization. When she wins her whistleblower case against Ramapo she will collect a few million dollars. This money, of course, will come from our tax payer’s pockets, not from our supervisor.
Meanwhile we are approaching the first anniversary of the FBI’s raid on Ramapo town hall. We look forward to St. Lawrence’s testimony in criminal court when the FBI finally brings forth indictments related to that raid.
Robert I. Rhodes, Chairman, Preserve Ramapo