Spring Valley village Trustee Vilair Fonvil, 54, denied stealing money from a summer camp program when he took the stand on Thursday during his public corruption trial.
Prosecutors say Fonvil and co-defendant Jermika Depas used camp funds as a personal piggy bank, creating a $8,000 slush fund. Prosecutor Richard Kennison Moran argued that Fonvil and Depas had directed village vans to drive children to camp rather than a private bus company that monies were budgeted for. Prosecutors also alleged the defendants hired only two bus monitors when six were funded by the village.
Fonvil, a trustee since December 2013, gave his explanation for a series of cashed checks and how the summer program was run despite logistical problems under questioning from his attorney, Kevin Dunlap and cross-examination by county prosectuors. Fonvil explained to Rockland County Judge Kevin Russo — who is presiding over the non-jury trial — that people involved with the summer program cashed checks and gave him money to repay him for loans or fronting their salaries. He said the program coordinator, co-defendant Depas, refused to pay people unless they signed W-2 forms, so he supplied their salaries out of pocket. He stated he lent Jermika Depas, his co-defendant hired to run the program, and another village employee money to pay their rent.
Fonvil and Depas face felony charges include third-degree grand larceny as a crime of public corruption, third-degree corrupting the government, and money laundering. Fonvil faces an additional charge of official misconduct as a public official.
Moran has told the judge that three people cashed checks for Fonvil and Depas, ostensibly from the $24,225 allocation from the village Board of Trustees. Fonvil later got an additional $3,000 for the summer camp program.
Moran told the judge that the check cashing scheme enabled a money-laundering operation by Fonvil in which he pocketed an estimated $11,000 he got from the village board to bus village children to summer camps.