COMMENTARY BY DYLAN SKRILOFF
Mayor Noramie Jasmin may not be a member of the 1 percent, but she is a member of the 5 percent or so, and as such it is amazing that she claimed poverty at her arraignment on Tuesday, April 2 in White Plains. Mayor Jasmin, who has not stepped down from her position since being charged with a myriad of felony corruption charges, told the court she could not afford an attorney.
The federal judge only half-agreed with Jasmin. After looking over her finances, the judge determined that Jasmin could afford to pay $125 per hour, or about half the going $250 rate. The state will cover the rest.
Since becoming mayor of Spring Valley in December 2009, Jasmin has infamously and repeatedly raised her own salary, in spite of running a village that is home to mostly low-income bracket persons and while the national and local economies have faced great difficulties.
Her salary has ballooned from approximately $92,000 to nearly $125,000, not to mention generous health benefits and pension. That is not even counting cash that federal prosecutors claim Jasmin has been taking under the table tax free. This is well above the median income for Rockland County.
If Ms. Jasmin cannot afford an attorney, it ought to be asked, who can? And why does the state assume someone charged with felony corruption is showing all her assets? The feds should investigate and see if she is hiding any money or if she can take out money against existing assets in order to pay the full cost of her own defense, instead of charging the people of New York.
While Desmaret’s salary is not quite so plush, he does received $27,500 from Spring Valley and $55,000 from a union job in Ramapo, adding up to $82,500 plus benefits for those two jobs alone. He also is alleged to have taken cash under the table more than once. He claimed to be unable to afford and attorney and is receiving a public defender.
Given these two officials, especially Jasmin, earn a good living on the books and take unknown money home under the table, it is pretty astonishing the state must pay a collective 75 percent of their lawyers fees.