The same man who was driven out of the Village of Sloatsburg by a mob of angry residents figuratively carrying pitchforks, has now been arrested by the Rockland DA on various corruption charges relating to his tenure as Sloatsburg building inspector.
John Layne, also the former mayor of Airmont and current Ramapo deputy highway department superintendent, was arrested Tuesday, May 22 on corruption charges relating to his job as the Sloatsburg building inspector. Layne had been hired last year by Christopher St. Lawrence despite his controversial tenure at Sloatsburg.
Following the arrest St. Lawrence indicated he may have to relieve Layne of his duties, although he did not confirm any action at this time.
Layne is accused of violating ethics rules and using his position while working as building inspector, from 2002 to 2009, to steer customers to his private companies. He is accused of doing private electrical work in Sloatsburg in violation of the village’s ethics code and then covering it up in the village records. He operated through two electrical contracting companies during that time, Airmont Electic and Advanced Electrical Construction.
As building inspector, Layne was not allowed to work in the village on projects that then the Building Department would be expected to inspect. He is accused of not requiring some residents and businesses to obtain building permits and file the proper paperwork, in order to conceal his own work, said Rockland District Attorney Thomas Zugibe.
In addition, Layne took money in exchange for electrician work, but never made the improvements, according to Zugibe.
District Attorney Zugibe said, “Home improvement and other construction projects must comply with building codes to ensure the safety of workers, property owners and residents. This defendant is charged not only with cheating several individuals, but also jeopardizing public safety. His illegal conduct was in clear violation of the public trust.”
Layne is charged with felony counts of issuing a false certificate and first-degree falsifying business records, as well as misdemeanor counts of official misconduct and petty larceny.
In late 2009 the big story in village politics in Sloatsburg was Layne, who many residents felt was abusing his power and running his position as a fiefdom at the service of his own ego. Tales of arbitrary decisions and favoritism by Layne became legion in the county’s westernmost village.
The situation came to a head shortly before winter officially began, when the village board figured out a way to get rid of Layne. They could not simple fire Layne for fear of a lawsuit, so instead, the board cleverly hired neighboring Hillburn’s inspector as a “cost-cutting” means to be shared between two villages.