Crony Capitalism

Town Supervisor Allegedly Ripped Off His Constituents to Build Baseball Stadium

Feds say he committed fraud to make citizens pay for a ballpark they overwhelmingly voted to not publicly finance.

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Ramapo, NY, a town about 30 miles northwest of Manhattan,

Government is getting ripped off doing together.
Wikipedia

is the home to the Rockland Boulders, a minor league baseball team in the independent Can-Am League. They play home games in Provident Bank Park, a five-year-old stadium that seats a little more than 4,500 people.

In 2010, 70 percent of Ramapo voters rejected a measure to invest $16.5 million in public funds to build the ballpark, yet a year later the stadium was in operation, after local officials used $25 million in bonds issued by the private nonprofit Ramapo Local Development Corporation (RLDC). The president and chairman of the RLDC is Christopher St. Lawrence, who also happens to be Ramapo's town supervisor.

Yesterday, St. Lawrence and N. Aaron Troodler, the former executive director of the RLDC, were arrested by the F.B.I. and charged with 22 counts of securities fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy. The core of the federal government's case is the "cooking of the books" relating to municipal bonds issued by the Town of Ramapo and by the RLDC. 

In a press release, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said that St. Lawrence and Troodler "through lies and accounting manipulations, found a way for the town to fund more than half of the $58 million it cost to build that stadium."

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Diego Rodriguez was also quoted in that same press release as saying:  

St. Lawrence and Troodler allegedly engaged in a complex securities fraud scheme so they could hide public funds being used for the construction of a stadium and other projects. The illegal activity allegedly continued even after they became aware the town and the corporation tasked with development initiatives were subjects of a federal investigation. Public corruption wastes billions in tax dollars every year. Investigating these types of crimes remains among the FBI's top priorities.

The indictment itself states that even though the fraud was ongoing well before the stadium broke ground, "the Town's financial problems were caused largely by the $58 million total cost of the stadium":

The Town paid more than half of that cost, despite the rejection of the Town's guarantee of bonds to pay for construction of the stadium in a Town-wide referendum in 2010 and ST. LAWRENCE's public statements that no public money would be used to pay for the stadium. 

The Journal-News reports that St. Lawrence, who pled not guilty yesterday, was back at work today. Though he would not comment on the charges, St. Lawrence said, "I'm going to go in and work and do business in the town of Ramapo as I have for the last 16 years."

Reason TV recently covered a story of another publicly-financed minor league ballpark. Watch below.

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    1. Uh, also.. how about that corrupt government and how it likes spending other people’s money, huh?

  1. Preet. Does not favor woodchippers. Favors FBI Bullets. Noted.

  2. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara

    [barf]

    1. Even a broken squirrel can find the right nut twice a day.

      I think I have that right.

  3. So I am guessing that Preet won’t be recommending the guilty be fed into a woodchipper at sentencing?

    1. Preet has made his thoughts on woodchippers known via Reason‘s attorneys.

  4. /Wiping woodchipper down. Looks into camera.

    Hi Preet.

    Remember us?

    /continues wiping woodchipper.

    1. Remember to sharpen or replace the blades at regular intervals. It’s important for situations like this.

    2. Now I know you boys like your chippers, but I reckon this Preet fella here could use a good classic fag draggin’. Just need a Chevy truck, a steel chain, and enough gas to make the 5 necessary circles around New York City.

  5. Yesterday, St. Lawrence and N. Aaron Troodler, the former executive director of the RLDC, were arrested by the F.B.I. and charged with 22 counts of securities fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy.

    In a press release, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said that St. Lawrence and Troodler “through lies and accounting manipulations, found a way for the town to fund more than half of the $58 million it cost to build that stadium.”

    That would be Phreet “Woodchipper” Bharara, right? Seems there’s no good guys here. I don’t suppose there’s any chance all three could have a tragic [redacted]?

    1. “through lies and accounting manipulations, found a way for the town to fund more than half of the $58 million it cost to build that stadium.”

      Lies and accounting manipulations are how a big chunk of government spending gets done. Ever heard of Social Security, Medicare, Farm Subsidies, the Ex-Im Bank, Free College Education? It may be dishonest and unethical and immoral and loathesome and disgusting, but it’s unfortunately not necessarily illegal.

  6. I’m heading over to Popular Mechanics. Maybe they have reviews on the latest woodchippers.

    1. Not a woodchipper, but this looks like fun.

  7. According to this, the average cost to build a minor league baseball stadium from 1993 to 2003 was $17.4 million. http://www.dailyherald.com/art…..712259975/

    Even with 23 years of inflation, is still just under $30 million to build a stadium. That’s a lot of corruption. Whose uncle’s construction company built the stadium at double the cost? They better have their millions in the Caymans and a condo in a non-extradition country! Hahaha, almost said it with a straight face. Slaps on the wrist all-around!

  8. “I’m going to go in and work and do business in the town of Ramapo as I have for the last 16 years.”

    Sorry Ramapo, you’re fucked.

    1. And the reason anyone should find that reassuring is…?

  9. Without researching the case I’d have to guess there’s less here than meets the eye from a legal stand-point – there are places that have had to pass laws trying to keep government from doing this sort of technically-not-illegal raping of the spirit of the law. Bond issues for the purchase of white elephants require voter approvals, voters reject issuing bonds to finance the purchase of white elephants, officials then simply sign a long-term lease agreement for said white elephant with a newly-created white elephant leasing company, said company uses the long-term lease agreement as security for a bank loan to fund the white elephant purchase. Officials get their white elephant, voters don’t get a say because they’re merely leasing the white elephant and not buying it, white elephant company makes bucks, the banks make bucks because construction loans backed by collateral carry a higher interest rate than munincipal bonds – everybody’s happy but the taxpayers. But the stupid taxpayers rejected the purchase of this shiny new white elephant everybody else is convinced is a sure-fire can’t-lose investment so who cares what those idiots think? They won’t be whining when that Nigerian prince who sent us the e-mail about how he specializes in paying top dollar for white elephants shows up and makes us all rich, will they?

    1. It’s kind of like when your mom tells you in no uncertain terms that you are absolutely, positively forbidden from buying that new video game Splatterape 4: The Sickening with the birthday money you got from Grandma so you don’t. Instead, you do something nice and thoughtful with your birthday money like give it to your best friend Billy. Billy is so touched and so grateful for your kindness that he decides to buy you a little something to show you how much he appreciates your generosity – he buys you a copy of Splatterape 4: The Sickening just as a nice little gift. And now your stupid mom is probably going to somehow claim that you did something wrong when clearly you didn’t do anything the least bit disobedient, did you?

  10. Reading Three Felonies A Day has made me skeptical about arrests and prosecutions based on wire fraud. It’s one of the more often used catchall crimes that are piled onto charges in an attempt to convince people to plead guilty to other offenses that would be harder to prove in court.

    That’s not to say that the guy might not be scum, just that government stooges shouldn’t be subject to that kind of legal fuckputzery either.

    1. I blame John Grisham and Tom Cruise for popularizing creative uses of wire fraud charges.

      1. Dammit. The Firm used mail fraud. Look up before I type.

    2. Not to mention the fact that the US Attorney in this case is “Mr. Woodchipper” himself, Preet Bharara. Like I said earlier, there’s really no good guys to root for here.

  11. Investigating these types of crimes remains among the FBI’s top priorities.

    Right behind wood-chipper allegations, redacting Clinton e-mails, and how to make Apple open up a cell phone?

  12. So after Preet gets done with his self-promotion, who IS going to pay for the stadium?

    1. I’m not sure, but Rockland Boulders fans better watch what they say online. Because that jackass, Preet Bharara, is probably watching everything they say–and he doesn’t take shit from anybody. . . . certainly not because of the First Amendment.

      I hope that jackass, Preet Bahara, gets nominated to something at some point–just so libertarians can come out of the woodwork to embarrass his sorry ass in front of everyone for his pathetic jackass behavior.

      P.S. Preet Bahara is a jackass.

      1. Let’s have a moment of silence for our soon-to-be-fallen friend(ish), Ken.

        1. When Preet Bharara, who is a jackass, is sitting at his jackass desk, eating his jackass food, and thinking his jackass thoughts, do you think it ever occurs to him that everyone thinks he’s a jackass?

  13. Someone selling items on Silk Road could probably buy the stadium outright and save the taxpayers millions.

  14. “In a press release, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said that St. Lawrence and Troodler “through lies and accounting manipulations, found a way for the town to fund more than half of the $58 million it cost to build that stadium.”

    Color me skeptical about anything that jackass, Preet Bharara, says about anything.

  15. If you build it, Preet will come. (yes, it is a masturbation euphemism)

  16. You know who else used public funds to build stadiums?

    1. Flavian?

  17. After seeing the title and tagline I thought this story would be about the atlanta braves moving to cobb county.

    I remember hearing they held a town hall just for show. People in support of the project were allowed to speak and people that wanted to voice their objections were escorted out by security.

    What kills me, is the braves already have one of the newest stadiums in the league.

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