Zeroing In on Government Fraud

Zeroing In on Government Fraud
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

In April, an unprecedented criminal trial will kick off in federal court in New York, with two representatives of the town of Ramapo facing multiple counts of securities fraud. Prosecutors have frequently indicted public officials for embezzling taxpayer money or taking bribes, but this case marks the first attempt to convict officials for fabricating a town's financial statement in order to raise money in the bond market—in this instance, to pay for a new minor-league baseball stadium. Ramapo town supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence and Ramapo Local Development Corporation executive director N. Aaron Troodler “kicked truth and transparency to the curb,” alleges the indictment, by lying to investors about the town's crumbling finances. Among the maneuvers the pair employed, prosecutors say, was to shift around assets in city accounts and to exaggerate the size of payments the town had received from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for cleanup after Superstorm Sandy.

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