Monsey Developer Says St. Lawrence behind Election Fraud Scheme
November 28, 2007
At the end of election day, Christopher St. Lawrence gave his first victory speech at a hotel, and then, at around midnight, he traveled over to Crown Millwork on Robert Pitt Drive in Monsey where he was greeted by a crowd of supporters who he personally credited with his win. In the crowd was Jacob Wagschal, a Monsey developer, who had been involved in a run-in with Ramapo police much earlier that same day.
(The man standing to Ed Friedman’s right has been identified as Jacob Wagschal [Board Member Friedman is the white-haired man in the left side of the frame--Supervisor St. Lawrence is in the center]. Click on the image for a brief clip of St. Lawrence’s remarks made that night. The complete video was originally posted on yiddishnayes.com but was taken down without explanation on Tuesday, November 20.)
On Sunday night, two days before the election, Preserve Ramapo received information that there was a truck loaded with 500 two-foot by four-foot green and yellow signs. These signs were made to look like duplicates of our large campaign signs. These, however, directed voters to vote Preserve Ramapo on Row A. The Preserve Ramapo line was Row G. The signs directed people to vote on St. Lawrence’s line.
Our sign crew was notified, and they were out all Sunday night watching for the fraudulent signs. The police were also notified, but nothing happened that night.
Then Monday, the night before the election, the crew went out again, and this time the signs were appearing in locations throughout Ramapo. They were placed adjacent to or they covered our signs. Before the night was over, several hundred of these forgeries were up.
At about 3 am, Ramapo police officer Brian Whitmore came upon two individuals at Hillside Ave. and Saddle River Road putting up the fraudulent signs. Working out of a black pickup truck, Shmuel Orliansky and Naftalie Lipshitz had apparently been covering Saddle River Road as Whitmore had seen 30 to 40 of these signs on that road and Route 45. Whitmore asked Orliansky what he was doing, and Orliansky said he was working for Preserve Ramapo putting up signs. When Whitmore told him that these weren’t Preserve Ramapo signs, he replied that he didn’t know and that he was told to put them up. Asked who told him to do this, he couldn’t give a name. At that point, Ptl. Paolucci arrived and told Whitmore that Preserve Ramapo workers were driving around, and Whitmore called Rudy Dent to have him come to the scene to see if Orliansky was working for them.
Before Dent arrived, a black 2007 Cadillac Escalade pulled up, and the driver said he was a friend of Orliansky. This was Jacob Wagschal, a Monsey developer, and he had received a cell phone call. He asked the officer what was wrong with the signs, and Whitmore told him they weren’t Preserve Ramapo signs, and they needed a permit. His response is quoted here exactly as it appeared on Whitmore’s report: "Wagschal stated to myself and Ptl. Paolucci that he was involved in all elections and that he was a close friend of Christopher St. Lawrence and that he asked him to put up signs and that they were covered under the Christopher St. Lawrence permit. He also went on to tell us that it was a trick because it says PreserveRamapo.us instead of Preserve Ramapo.org and that they hope some people will end up voting that way. He went on to tell me that someone in California lent them the PreserveRamapo.us site." When Whitmore insisted that they needed a permit for these signs, even though Wagschal was working for St. Lawrence who had a permit for his signs, Wagschal backed away from his story and "now denied saying that he worked for St. Lawrence and that he didn’t ask him to put up the signs."
[Editor’s note: About the PreserveRamapo.us website being loaned to Wagschal. The www.Preserveramapo.us website is owned by Solomon Fuchs who lives on Albers Street in Valley Village, California. Mr. Fuchs registered the website Monday October 29 at about three o’clock in the afternoon. That would not give much lead time to print the signs if the sign owners were to claim this is a legitimate enterprise of that particular organization. It’s likely the web registration followed the preparation of the signs.]
At this point, Rudy Dent arrived and verified that neither Orliansky or Lipshitz were affiliated with Preserve Ramapo. A police photographer arrived and documented the signs that were put up by the two.
If you don’t read any further in the police report, it looks like the two guys caught were working for Wagschal and that he tried to bluff the officers by saying he was working for St. Lawrence, and when that didn’t work, he just recanted.
There are eight more pages in the report including Paolucci’s Supplemental Report. In his report, Paolucci adds a few details. He had arrived before Wagschal pulled up. When the builder did get there, he asked him why he came there, "Wagschal stated that he was called by the two subjects being interviewed by PO Whitmore, and to come and help them. Wagschal stated he could help and that he was good with the police. Wagschal then asked what sergeant was working."
As Wagschal spoke to Paolucci, the following exchange took place: (again, full quotes from the report) "This officer asked Wagschal if he knew what was happening here. Mr. Wagschal stated that he knew all about the signs and that they were intentionally made to deceive the Preserve Ramapo voters. Wagschal then advised this officer that he was good friends with Supervisor St. Lawrence and that he was hired to place these particular signs up. Wagschal then immediately recanted his last statement and clarified that he was putting up the signs in question as requested by the community, and that the signs were manufactured by the community. Wagschal then stated that he was hired by Supervisor St. Lawrence to put up other Vote for St. Lawrence signs."
The next line in the report reads: "A short time later Wagschal stated to PO Whitmore and myself that he was a very close friend of Supervisor St. Lawrence and that he was hired by St. Lawrence to place these political signs throughout the Town of Ramapo." You’ve already read the rest of the description of this conversation in Whitmore’s notes above.
So, first Wagschal says he’s good with the police and he wanted to know who was on that night. Then he tells one officer that this was all approved by Supervisor St. Lawrence. When the officer (Paolucci) doesn’t appear to be buying it, he recants and says it was the community that is behind it. Then a short time later he tries the same story about St. Lawrence approved and paid for this with both officers. Same refusal by the officers to back down, and Wagschal recants again and offers the second story, blaming the community, again.
So what’s going on here? Obviously, the guy knows these two officers talk to each other, so telling the cover story first to one, and then telling it to the other is not going to work, especially since he recanted the first try with Paolucci. He tells the same story twice and recants it twice? And he tells it the second time to both of them. What’s he doing?
Besides utter cluelessness, there is another possible explanation. Maybe the message is not exactly what he’s saying, and the second time is just an attempt to speak a little louder. I know the boss, he knows about this—just trust me. Or, you can check yourself (his question about what sergeant is on). If this was his intent, he picked the wrong two officers who had the intent and integrity to do exactly what they were supposed to.
What would have helped clear up this situation would have been some public expression of indignation on the part of Supervisor St. Lawrence that Wagschal would have so blatantly lied about him. We have seen no comment one way or another on this from Town Hall, and we are told that Wagschal was standing shoulder to shoulder with Ed Friedman at the Monsey celebration.
Back at the police station
The next part of the police report has the remarks of Lt. Holmes who was at the station. Holmes was trying to find out if any election law had been broken. By then Bob Rhodes and Rudy Dent from Preserve Ramapo were at the station. I spoke to Bob on his cell and I told him that I had three citations from NY case law relating to the incident. Holmes refused to talk to me, and when I was instructed to email the citations from LexisNexis to him, I did but there was no reaction or notation of this in his report. He did receive a second mailing of the three statutes, and I hope they have been considered in the formal complaint against those placing the signs. Holmes was also finally able to contact Ann Marie Kelley, a Board of Elections Commissioner, but her response was disappointing. She claimed that the signs were not in violation of the law because "there was a candidate, Joe Meyers, that was endorsed by Preserve Ramapo, that was running on Row A." (Quoted from report) Her assumption is wrong on several counts. First, the signs were posted in a number of areas where Joe was not on the line, and second, the obvious intention to deceive with the appearance and content would not escape the simplest application of common sense. We will be forwarding a formal complaint to the County as well as State Board of Elections, and this will include references to the state election laws that were broken on that night.
What laws were broken?
For anyone who saw the signs and mistakenly voted row A while thinking they were supporting Preserve Ramapo, no nuanced explanation of the codes would be necessary. There are few things more dangerous in a democracy than those that subvert our right to a free election, and that’s manifestly obvious to most people.
For the specific laws that Orliansky,
Lipshitz, and Wagschal violated that night there’s the following:
The first citation is from 6201.1 Fair Campaign Code. "No person shall directly or indirectly commit (b) political practices involving subversion or undermining of political parties or the electoral process including, but not limited to, the preparation or distribution of any fraudulent, forged or falsely identifying writing or the use of any employees or agents who falsely represent themselves as supporters of a candidate, political party or committee."
1. Orliansky told Officer Whitmore "he was working for Preserve Ramapo and that he was putting up signs" (falsely representing himself ).
2. Look at the two photos of the signs above, and if you didn’t already know what line Preserve Ramapo was on, could you tell which sign was authorized and which was a forgery? (fraudulent, forged or falsely identifying writing)
3. The "subversion" was happily explained to the officers by Wagschal: It’s a trick, he said, and they hoped Preserve Ramapo voters would vote on Row A, and, again, the signs were made by the Supervisor to throw the voters off. (subverting our right to a free election)
Part (d) of the law prohibits "any acts intended to hinder or prevent any eligible person from registering, enrolling or voting." If you gave a voter wrong instructions and, say, sent him to the wrong polling place, or if you told him that the candidates he supports are on Row A and that he doesn’t have to look any further (especially way down at the bottom of the ballot to G), would these acts constitute "hindrances"?
The widespread posting of hundreds of these signs is in a completely different class of assault on free elections, far more serious than the repeated acts of theft and cutting our signs in half with case cutters, all of which we put up with this year. These signs cost us $8 apiece, so the people responsible for this act were willing to spend thousands to get it done. Our source who told us Sunday night about these signs said there was a truck with 500 copies of these. We watched both nights and acted quickly on Monday night, but despite that several hundred were posted, and not just in Joe’s election district.
The Second law is Article 17 of the State Election Law–Violations of the Elective Franchise.
This adds the dimension of conspiracy to promote or prevent election of a person to a public office by unlawful means by any two or more persons. That night there were Shmuel Orliansky, Natalie Lipshitz, Jacob Wagschal, and by implication of his own words, Wagschal adds Christopher St. Lawrence, and Orliansky adds Chaim Mair Greenfield as the person who gave him the signs.
(The full text of these laws can be read here.)
Those who can’t vote have no voice--there’s no need to count or even take notice of them. Then it’s incumbency, money, and cunning that controls everything. And anything that diminishes your right to vote qualifies as a quiet kind of treason.
We will be presenting updates on the complaint filed with the Ramapo Police Department, as well as the formal complaints to the Rockland Board of Elections, the New York State Board of Elections, and other enforcement agencies applied to. Meanwhile, if you have any information that you think would help, such as who took delivery of the signs, how many teams were involved, how many knew about this beforehand, what other legal violations might be involved, etc., please contact us at email@example.com. Your information will be completely confidential.