The felony conviction of Christopher St. Lawrence in his federal corruption trial Friday means he has had to vacate his position as Ramapo town supervisor and Deputy Supervisor Yitzchok Ullman has assumed those duties.
Ullman will continue handling supervisor duties until the vacancy is filled after November's election, or sooner, if appointed by the Ramapo Town Board.
"As deputy supervisor, I am now responsible under law to fulfill the duties as supervisor," Ullman said in a statement. "I will dedicate my efforts to do so openly, competently and effectively."
Ullman said one of his priorities will be to encourage the abolishment of the Ramapo Local Development Corporation, which was at the center of the federal charges brought against St. Lawrence that alleged he rigged the town's financial books in order to receive lower rates on bonds to finance a baseball stadium in Pomona and other town projects.
"I will direct the Town’s Finance Director, the Town Attorney and the Parks & Recreation Director to promptly develop a plan to transition the operations of the Palisades Credit Union Park from the RLDC to the town," Ullman said. "This will avoid a duplication of services and place the control and responsibility for the sports facility under the direct auspices of the Town. Although local development corporations are permitted under state law, the NYS Comptroller has criticized their use and Ramapo should heed the comptroller’s advice."
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.
The verdict, which came Friday afternoon following a four-week trial in federal court in White Plains, marks the first conviction for securities fraud in connection with municipal bonds.
The 11 counts of wire fraud each carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; eight counts of securities fraud, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; and one count of conspiracy, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. St. Lawrence is expected to be sentenced in September.
"The misdeeds of Mr. St. Lawrence should fade as a billboard, together with all the signs along a highway as we drive into our brighter future wiser because of the difficult roads we have crossed," Ullman said.
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