The jury selection was completed and the panel was seated this morning. There are seven women and five men, and six alternates. There are no jurors from Rockland C0unty.
Then St. Lawrence’s attorney presented his opening remarks during which he told the jury his client could not be held accountable for the 22 fraud charges outlined by the prosecution. Instead, Burke blamed the whistleblower, Melissa Reimer, and the grassroots organization Preserve Ramapo. If that’s the defense, they have a problem.
Miss Reimer has countless digital recordings verifying her reasons for going to the federal authorities, and our organization, Preserve Ramapo, has a record twelve years long here and on our legacy website archiving a long disgraceful career that began with St. Lawrence’s first run for office, featuring his lies about having a BA and an MA from Harvard University.
Here’s the court update for Thursday, April 20 from The Journal News Steve Lieberman and Michael D’Onofrio:
“Ramapo Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence is a victim of politics who should not be held accountable for actions that were approved by town auditors and passed by the town board, his lawyer told the jury in his opening statement in St. Lawrence’s corruption trial on Thursday afternoon.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Loss, on the other hand, called St. Lawrence a politician orchestrating a scheme driven by “his own agenda” — which was to build a big expensive baseball stadium in town, no matter what deception it took.
St. Lawrence is on trial in U.S. District Court in White Plains on a 22-count indictment charging him with committing securities fraud, conspiracy and wire fraud. The charges allege he falsely inflated the town’s general fund to get better rates on bonds to finance the stadium and other projects, such as the Ramapo Commons townhouses on Elm Street, through a quasi-governmental agency, the Ramapo Local Development Corp.
St. Lawrence’s attorney, Michael Burke, pointed fingers in his opening remarks at the political group Preserve Ramapo for being out to discredit St. Lawrence, and at former deputy town finance director Melissa Reimer, who is expected to be a key witness in the case and who he called a “disgruntled employee.”
Burke told jurors the town’s financial auditors had OK’d everything and had never raised concerns about fraud, even after vetting Reimer’s complaints. He said the town never defaulted on any of the bonds in question, and St. Lawrence didn’t benefit personally from any of the actions being alleged.
He maintained another key prosecution witness in the case, former RLDC executive director Aaron Troodler, justified everything he did to the Securities and Exchange Commission but changed his story after pleading guilty in the case and agreeing to testify against the supervisor.
Loss, the prosecutor, said simply put, St. Lawrence “told lies to get members of the public to buy bonds” and to cover up the fact that the town had a negative balance of at least $1 million. Had that been known, he said, some people might not have invested in the bonds while others might have taken the risk but asked for higher interest rates.
Six of the bonds in question were issued by the town, while the other two were issued in connection to the stadium by the RLDC, Loss said.
St. Lawrence, Loss said, told the Moody’s bond rating service that Ramapo had a $3 million positive balance in its general fund, which was not true, and lied about the town having received $3.1 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for storm damage when the town had only asked for $500,000 and had not received it yet.
He said jurors will hear St. Lawrence on audiotape admitting they would “all have to be magicians to get to the numbers we gave Moody’s.”
The first witness called was Ned Flynn, managing director of Jefferies LLC which was the underwriter for a $25 million bond for St. Lawrence’s baseball stadium.
For the complete Journal coverage including details on the jurors and Flynn’s testimony click here.
There will be no proceedings Friday, and the trial will resume Monday with Flynn continuing his testimony.