City Officials Charged With Funding Fraud

Securities fraud charges were brought against a town supervisor and former developer of a controversial suburban New York stadium April 14, accusing the pair of fabricating financials in order to sell millions of dollars in municipal bonds to build the venue.

Ramapo Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence and Aaron Troodler, former executive director of the Ramapo Local Development Corporation, face a 22-count indictment in what are “believed to be the first-ever municipal bond-related criminal securities fraud charges against public officials,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said. The defendants “kicked truth and transparency to the curb, selling over $150 million of municipal bonds on fabricated financials,” Bharara said. “In doing so, they defrauded both the citizens of Ramapo and thousands of municipal bond investors around the country.”

St. Lawrence is accused of inflating town assets to obtain the municipal bonds used to build 4,500-capacity Provident Bank Park, a baseball stadium outside the Ramapo village of Pomona, N.Y., also used as a concert venue. It’s home to the Rockland Boulders minor-league baseball team, and has hosted concerts including Beach Boys, Darius Rucker, 38 Special, Sara Evans, Imagination Movers, and Gavin DeGraw since opening in 2012.

Investigators examined the movement of money between the development agency and town accounts. They also want to know whether the LDC, which oversaw the stadium project, generated money and repaid the town. The charges come three years after the FBI and the district attorney’s office raided Ramapo Town Hall, located in Rockland County and northwest of New York City, and seized records from the finance and tax departments and the offices of St. Lawrence and the town attorney.