Former Ramapo Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence's fight to avoid jail time came to an end when he was sentenced to two and half years in prison and a fined $75,000 for fraud involving the financing of a baseball stadium.
Federal judge Cathy Siebel handed down the sentence Wednesday afternoon at the federal courthouse in White Plains.
St. Lawrence who showed no emotion, was also sentenced to three years of supervised release.
“For years, Christopher St. Lawrence, as Ramapo Town Supervisor, misled municipal bond investors about the state of Ramapo’s finances," Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said. "At a trial earlier this year, the jury quickly saw through his years lies, and today, he was sentenced to time in federal prison.
"The integrity of the $3.7 trillion municipal bond market must be protected, and prosecutions like this one should put on all on notice that misleading investors in that market through fraud and deception will lead to prosecution and jail.”
Rockland County Executive Ed Day said that while some might think the sentence was too tough, that the finding of the legal system should be respected.
"As an elected official, I seek to honor the trust that the public has placed in me in every decision that I make. I never lose sight of the fact that the money spent by government at every level belongs to the taxpayers," said Day. "I cannot imagine an elected official doing anything less. When an elected official is convicted of fraud involving funds that belong to the taxpayer, there must be consequences.
St. Lawrence was convicted of 20 counts of securities fraud and conspiracy on May 19 following a four-week trial in federal court in White Plains. His conviction was a first for securities fraud in connection with municipal bonds.
The case centered on St. Lawrence's rigging of the town's financial books in order to receive lower rates on bonds to finance a $58 million baseball stadium in Pomona, a housing complex on Elm Street, and other town projects through the Ramapo Local Development Corp.
The jury returned guilty verdicts on 12 wire fraud counts and eight counts of securities fraud. The 65-year-old St. Lawrence, who lives in Wesley Hills, was acquitted of one count of securities fraud and one count of wire fraud.
St. Lawrence's attorney, Michael Burke had asked Seibel to sentence St. Lawrence to probation while U.S. probation officials recommended 2 1/2 years in prison.
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