BY DYLAN SKRILOFF
The FBI is hot on Ramapo Supervisor Chris St. Lawrence’s trail as teams of federal agents beset town hall this afternoon and evening. With a search warrant in hand, the feds evacuated the building, instructing only certain higher-ups and their immediate staff to stay as they conducted the search.
And search they did, for hours and hours on into the night. Eventually the feds announced they are not planning to arrest anyone at this time. Rockland District Attorney Tom Zugibe confirmed his office is assisting in the investigation and said authorities are looking into possible corruption in the town.
“Sources” have told the media that financial documents, including those surrounding the baseball stadium, are the main subject of the search warrant. The financial department, the infamous Ramapo Land Development Corp (LDC) which formed the stadium, the Town Attorney Office, were the subject of the search, sources said.
The investigation is supposedly not a new one and as such not necessarily associated with the recent arrests in Spring Valley of Mayor Noramie Jasmin and Deputy Mayor Joseph Desmaret. However, Desmaret had a job working for St. Lawrence in Ramapo, and the feds certainly will be looking for any of their perps from the April arrest to sing, sing, sing.
As of Wednesday night the question on the minds of all Rocklanders is, “Will Chris St. Lawrence take a fall? Is the Ramapo supervisor headed to the big house?” The FBI raided Ramapo Town Hall around 4 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon. Nothing had been confirmed by authorities as of last night, but the prevalent rumor at the scene was that the feds were looking for financial documents including ones pertaining to the construction of Provident Bank Park in Pomona.
County Legislator Joseph Meyers stalked the outside of town hall giving interviews during the raid. He told the Rockland County Times, “I think, and I don’t say this lightly, the man [St. Lawrence] is corrupt as corrupt can be. The only thing that’s ever surprised me is that the nine of us have not been standing here much sooner.”
St. Lawrence has long been a major figure of controversy in the town and throughout Rockland. He is well-known for his close relationship with power brokers for the religious Jewish communities, often called “the bloc vote,” that live predominately in Ramapo.
In return for their near unanimous vote, St. Lawrence has enacted policies favorable to high profile developers in the communities and generally allowed the leaders of the community to have their way. Be it down-zoning for high-density housing, loose tax exemption policies for so-called houses of worship which are actually just ordinary homes, allowing certain residents to park illegally, or a litany of other governing policies, St. Lawrence has mightily annoyed many residents who do not benefit from his “arrangement.”
In 2010 he proceeded with the construction of what would become Provident Bank Park, even after residents voted overwhelmingly to reject the issuing of a bond to pay for it. St. Lawrence said he’d find private funds to pay the bill, but never did, and instead issued a different kind of bond not subject to public referendum.
Because they used a so-called “quasi-governmental” entity, a local development corporation, much of the stadium work was and is not subject to FOIL regulations ensuring transparency.
It remains to be seen if the FBI’s investigation will lead to an arrest of St. Lawrence or anyone close to him. If he is arrested, one can only imagine what investigators will hear if he sing, sing, sings.