BY CAROL MCILMURRAY
WHITE PLAINS- Four days into the long awaited trial of Ramapo Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence and several witnesses have already taken the stand for the prosecution. Key witnesses such as Ned Flynn, managing director of Jefferies LLC, the underwriter of a $25 million bond for a stadium project in Pomona, and Thomas Meyers, a licensed attorney who worked with the Ramapo Local Development Corporation [RLDC], a quasi-governmental organization associated with the Town of Ramapo integral in building the stadium, have given testimony.
Rockland Boulders co-owner and president Ken Lehner also took the witness stand. His testimony of St. Lawrence’s role in the project was at times complimentary, even calling the indicted supervisor “a visionary,” but he also admitted that St. Lawrence never took notes during their meetings. When Lehner questioned him about this in 2010 he said St. Lawrence told him, “Writing things down can lead to a paper trail, and a paper trail cannot be good.”
St. Lawrence faces a 22-count indictment from the federal government charging him with committing securities fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy related to the stadium project, which ended up costing taxpayers upwards of $60 million. The federal government alleges that St. Lawrence falsely represented the town’s finances in order to build the stadium and other projects, such as the Ramapo Commons townhouses on Elm Street, through the RLDC, a company created to intercede between the Town of Ramapo and the financial dealings for these projects.
Flynn, the first witness on the stand, discussed documents signed by St. Lawrence and Aaron Troodler, who at the time was the executive director of the RLDC and a deputy town attorney in Ramapo. Flynn testified by signing the paperwork the two men maintained that everything in the paperwork was true and accurate to the best of their knowledge. Flynn testified that his underwriting company likely would not have supported the bond deal had it known that a $3.6 million transfer from the RLDC into town funds was a phony receivable, as US attorney Daniel Loss asserts.
On a question from St. Lawrence defense attorney Burke about whether the town had the resources to pay for the bonds, Flynn replied, “The Town of Ramapo is a wealthy town, has a healthy tax base, they have the resources to meet their debt service.”
Meyers gave his testimony on Wednesday as did an analyst who worked for Moody’s on their ratings on Ramapo bonds. At the conclusion of Wednesday’s hearings the first of several town officials expected to testify took the stand, Pat Withers, former deputy supervisor and current councilman. Withers testimony will resume Thursdaymorning.
Melissa Reimer, the whistleblower and former fiscial supervisor of Ramapo and Aaron Troodler, former executive director of RLDC are still slated to take the stand for the prosecution. It is not known at this time if Christopher St. Lawrence will take the stand in his own defense.
Luann Dinino, a long time resident of Ramapo, summed up the feelings of St. Lawrence’s critics. She said about the ongoing trial, “Ramapo couldn’t be happier to have St Lawrence face the charges of his corruption in our community. He has destroyed our town that we have build for our future and our children and destroyed our tax base. The illegal building and money that he has stole from us must come to an end.”
St. Lawrence was reelected as supervisor in 2013 and 2015 amidst widespread publicity about the FBI investigation into Ramapo Town Hall. St. Lawrence owes his electoral success mainly to the near unanimous support and high turnout rate of Orthodox and Hasidic Jewish voters in the town for whom St. Lawrence is viewed as a reliable ally.