RAMAPO, N.Y. -- Neither Republicans nor Democrats are surprised that a three-year FBI probe tied to the financing of the town's controversial baseball stadium has resulted in Thursday morning's arrests of Ramapo Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence and Aaron Troodler, the former executive director of the Ramapo Local Development Corporation.
Both St. Lawrence, a Wesley Hills Democrat, and Troodler face federal securities fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy charges in connection with the issuance of municipal bonds. The U.S. Attorney's Office says the case could be the first municipal bond-related securities prosecution ever.
"Ramapo has been a one-party town, a one-man show," said Marino Fontana, Chairman of the Ramapo Republican Committee. "We hope that this will serve as a wake-up call to all of the other politicians in Ramapo and remind them that they were elected to serve the public’s best interest instead of their own."
William Weber, an accountant who made an unsuccessful bid for Town Council last November on the GOP slate, said today's arrests bear out the fact that the supervisor has done "inappropriate things."
Weber has for a long time complained that St. Lawrence operated under a "veil of secrecy," including a recent vote to transfer 25 acres of town-owned property to the Ramapo Local Development Corporation.
"It's time for Ramapo to clean up its government and operate in an open and clean way," he said.
The charges and case were outlined by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, Rockland District Attorney Thomas Zugibe, FBI and SEC officials during a late-morning news conference in Manhattan.
Bharara, at the news conference, said the two town leaders "kicked truth and transparency to the curb," defrauding both town residents and municipal bond investors.
"There were other more pressing needs than a shiny, new sports stadium," Bharara declared.
Members of St. Lawrence's party, too, are absorbing news of the arrests.
"This morning's arrests of officials and others in the Town of Ramapo has cast a dark cloud over our town, " said Ramapo Deputy Supervisor Patrick Withers. "While the criminal charges filed against these individuals are not a surprise, coming as they are on the heels of a multi-year federal investigation, the nature and extent of the charges are shocking."
He added: "As Deputy Supervisor for the Town of Ramapo, I will continue to act in the best interests of all our residents, and I am working to ensure that our government remains fully functional. While the individuals involved wind their way through the legal process, it is my responsibility to ensure that the business of government continues."
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