RAMAPO, N.Y. (AP) — A suburban New York town supervisor and the former head of a local development corporation were charged with securities fraud Thursday in connection with the financing of a controversial stadium.
Ramapo Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence and N. 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 $25 million in municipal bonds used in 2012 to build Provident Bank Park, a stadium outside Pomona used as a sports and concert venue.
Investigators were looking into 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 the Ramapo Town Hall and seized records from the finance and tax departments and the offices of the supervisor and town attorney.
The grassroots political party Preserve Ramapo and others had criticized St. Lawrence of manipulating financial regulations and laws to build the stadium.
In 2010, Ramapo voters defeated the plan to finance its construction for a team in the independent Can-AM League. St. Lawrence then used the town to guarantee $25 million in bonds over five years issued for the LDC. The five-year period bypassed the law allowing for a public vote. But a state judge upheld the decision and declined to halt the construction.
There was no immediate information on attorneys who could comment on the defendants’ behalf.
The town attorney didn’t immediately respond to email and phone requests for comment.