“Former town finance official Melissa Reimer — credited as a whistleblower in a federal investigation that brought down former Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence — and Ramapo have settled her lawsuit for retaliatory dismissal for more than $2.4 million.
The Town Board approved the agreement on Wednesday night, more than two years after three board members voted to fire Reimer on disciplinary charges after she had been suspended with pay from her $170,000 job in June 2013.
Under the settlement, signed Thursday by Supervisor Michael Specht, the town must pay Reimer in six installments until January 2024.
The payments start with two checks totally $750,000 before April 1, followed by yearly payments ranging from $450,469 in 2020, to a final payment of $409,781 in Jan. 15, 2024.
The town also will pay Reimer’s legal fees of $270,000 in two payments of $120,000 to Michael Sussman and Associates, and $150,000 to her first attorney, Fred Lichtmacher, according to the agreement. The payments are due within a month.
As part of her resignation, Ramapo will provide Reimer and her family with health insurance until she turns 67.
Reimer agreed to withdraw her federal lawsuit against the town and its officials.
About half the cost is covered by the town’s insurance policy.
As part of the settlement, board members rescinded their dismissal of Reimer in May 2018 and accepted her resignation on Wednesday night in a separate vote.
Reimer had been hired in December 2002 and suspended in 2013 on disciplinary charges.
She had filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit in U.S. District Court against the town in December 2017, claiming then-Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence conspired with other town officials to retaliate against her for cooperating with the FBI investigating the town for financial corruption.
In May 2018, Democratic Deputy Supervisor Brendel Logan-Charles and Council members Michael Rossman and David Wanounou voted to accept a hearing officer’s recommendations to fire Reimer, who had just won election to the Suffern Central Board of Education.
Specht recused himself since he had prosecuted disciplinary charges against Reimer as an assistant town attorney.
Reimer testified against St. Lawrence at his federal corruption trial at the federal courthouse in White Plains, providing audio tapes of St. Lawrence and others, as well as telling jurors about phony revenues to show a positive budget fund balance as part of St. Lawrence’s efforts to cover up financial deficits and get low-interest rates when borrowing money to build the town’s estimated $60 million baseball stadium
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Her secretly recorded audio tapes indicated St. Lawrence conspired with others to manipulate funds that denied municipal bond buyers with correct information on the failing town budget.
The conspiracy included funneling revenues through the Ramapo Local Development Corp., a quasi governmental financing arm for the town. The baseball stadium and a Ramapo Commons housing on Elm Street were financed through the agency, on which St. Lawrence sat at as chairman of his hand-picked board.
One devastating conversation played to the jury came after St. Lawrence and other officials met with the town’s bond advisers to discuss the town’s financial health.
On the Reimer audio turned over the FBI, St. Lawrence, referring to his wish to refinance a series of short-term notes and bonds, is heard saying: “Listen, I’m going to tell you this right now, we need to get the refinancing done. Those numbers, we’re going to have to be a magician to get those numbers.”
The federal jury convicted St. Lawrence on May 19, 2017, of 20 counts of securities fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy. He was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison and fined $75,000. He’s scheduled for release in May.
Also testifying against St. Lawrence for the U.S. Attorney’s Office was then Councilman Patrick Withers, a Democrat who also provided the FBI with incriminating audio tapes and whose testimony lost him support for re-election.
St. Lawrence and other officials also pleaded to civil security fraud charges and were fined by the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission.”
Read the complete Journal News coverage here.