FOLLOW THE BREAD CRUMBS
At what point do misspelled names and addresses suggest an illegal pattern of deception in legally mandated election documents?
Politicians are not allowed to require that public employees contribute to their political campaigns. Yet it would appear that Town of Ramapo employees are expected to contribute a "standard" contribution of $125 (larger amounts have not been turned away). These contributions are not discussed here. The election is just a few weeks away and we already have these questions.
Preserve Ramapo is proud to say that it does not have to rely on thousands of dollars in tainted contributions.
It seems clear that if you want to do business with Christopher P. St. Lawrence or if you are an employee of the Town of Ramapo there is a price to pay. Several county law firms have contributed as have builders, construction companies, developers, waste contractors and the banks Ramapo uses to deposit its funds.
All of the following information was obtained from public sources-the Internet, phone directories, town board and agency meetings. None of the following is meant to imply that a company or individual is not performing at the highest ethical or professional level.
This report lists contributions of $500 and above and focuses on the most serious errors and deceptions that cannot be considered mere typographical errors. There are common threads running throughout this summary:
Addresses for some large out of town contributions are incorrect
Some contributors provide services for the Town of Ramapo and/or Rockland Sewer District #1 and/or Rockland County Solid Waste Management Authority (RCSWMA)
This summary concludes with a table listing contributions in excess of $500. The total of all contributions over $500 is $70,946. Of this amount, $19,700 came from Ramapo. Simply stated-he received more big contributions from outside of Ramapo.
Some of the contributions have exceeded the legal New York State maximum. The law limits total contributions to a candidateís committee to $.05 times the number of registered voters in the candidateís jurisdiction. Ramapo has between 55,000 and 56,000 voters. Choosing the higher number, the limit is $2,800. The contributions discussed below are interesting for reasons that will become apparent as they are presented. Those with dollar amounts highlighted in red may be illegal. The total dollar amount of these contributions is $16,500.
The contributions seem to be nothing more than payments for the opportunity to do business with either the Town of Ramapo or the Rockland County Solid Waste Management Authority (RCSWMA) or the Rockland County Sewer District #1. Mr. St. Lawrence is Chairman of the RCSWMA. He is also a Sewer District Commissioner. His influence extends well beyond Ramapo. The contributions report to New York State appears to be an attempt to deceive the public and the State about the true source of some of these contributions. In the final analysis, the supervisor owes a debt to those who paid his way to office and not to those who voted for him.
The list of contributors to the St. Lawrence campaign was obtained from the New York State Board of Elections Web Site (www.elections.state.ny.us). The legitimate home or business address of the contributor, where available, has not been included to provide some degree of privacy.
The web site disclaimer clearly states how this data is submitted:
The majority of financial disclosure statements filed at the State Board are entered into the database directly from e-mail or diskette filings submitted by committee treasurers or candidates. The information contained in paper filings is entered into the database exactly as it appears on the forms. Because database searches retrieve information exactly the way it is reported, search results may be inaccurate and/or incomplete.
New York State has placed responsibility for the accuracy of the data with the candidate or his treasurer. Contributions are made to the Friends of Christopher St. Lawrence located at 48 Wesley Chapel Road in Suffern. This is the Supervisorís home. Who then but Mr. St. Lawrence is responsible for the content and accuracy of the information? Isnít it reasonable to conclude that information submitted to NYS would be thoroughly reviewed for accuracy?
There are enough errors here to lead to the conclusion that the intent is to discourage anyone from discovering the source of the contribution. It is also obvious that if you want to do business with Ramapo or RCSWMA or Rockland County Sewer District #1 then a contribution is expected.
Letís follow some of the bread crumbs in the CONTRIBUTIONS GREATER THAN $500 table and see where they take us. The contents of each line are: line number, date of contribution, contributor, amount contributed, address if relevant, city, state, zip code and check number Repeating what was said above, contributions flagged in red may be illegal.
Arco Management is a large real estate management company headquartered in Suffern. In addition to other properties managed by Arco, the company is the property manager for the large Bon Aire development in Suffern. Arco also manages government subsidized Section 8 housing. Read The Watcher article in the Journal News 6/9/07, page B1. Arco may still have plans to build a structure in the parking lot opposite the Suffern Post Office. Arco needs good friends in high places.
Arcoís $3,000 contribution exceeds the NYS legal limit for campaign contributions.
Lines 3 and 4
Bennett, Kielson, Storch performs municipal auditing services and one of their clients is Ramapo.
Lines 5 and 30
Additional $1,000 contributors are Carl Minuto Carting Co., Inc.; PO Box 234; W Nyack, NY 10994 and Monsey Carting Inc.; PO Box 234; W Nyack, NY 10994. They even have the same phone number. It is unlikely that the Friends of Christopher P. St. Lawrence didnít know that the two companies are the same.
Lines 7 and 13
$1,300 from another carter.
Why is Ellen Pytlar in Flemington, NJ interested in contributing $700? Mr. Pytlar has done work in odor control for RCSWMA. Mrs. Pytlar (name entered as Pylar) also contributed $125 on 5/3/07. This is not a reflection on Ted Pytlarís work or the importance of it.
Lines 11 and 12
Frederick P. Clark and Associates do planning and consulting work for Ramapo. No further comment is necessary to explain why they like the current supervisor.
Is Gershon Alexander of Spring Valley so pleased with the job performance of Christopher P. St.Lawrence that he contributed $2,000? The website www.puddingstonegroup.com answers the question:
As a Principal and Senior Vice President of Puddingstone Funding, Gershon is responsible for site evaluation and is involved in the planning, design, scheduling, and construction of the company's developments from inception through occupancy and stabilization. Gershon has extensive expertise in Construction Management, and has been instrumental in maintaining Puddingstone Funding's reputation for developments that are completed on time and within budget.
Gershon Alexanderís desire to see Christopher P. St. Lawrence re-elected appears to extend beyond that of a satisfied constituent.
Mr. Alexanderís contribution becomes even more interesting when we jump ahead and look at line 27.
Another $2,000 contributor is Marie A. Cook whose address is given as 210 Oarrun Ave. in North Hadden, NJ 07508. Who is Marie Cook and what is her interest in Ramapo?
First, try to find the zip code for North Hadden at www.zip4.usps.com. North Haledon would have been correct. Continuing, the various directory websites (e.g. www.411.com) show Marie A. and Harold P. Cook residing at 210 Oakwood Avenue in North Haledon, NJ 07508.
It is a stretch to go from "Oarrun" to "Oakwood" and from "North Hadden" to "North Haledon." It will be shown below that this is not the only address error when there is a large contribution.
Returning to the Puddingstone website we now have the likely answer to the identity of Marie Cook and why she is interested in Ramapo. Read the website biography of Harold Cook:
Harold is our in-house attorney, as well as being a Principal and Partner of Puddingstone Funding. In addition to being our in-house counsel, Harold is an experienced banker. He has served as chairman of Wayne Savings Bank and was instrumental in the bank's sale to Valley National Bank. Harold is a partner in the law firm of Perconti & Cook, and is a judge in several northern New Jersey towns. Harold manages all of our legal matters, and is instrumental in the financing process of Puddingstone's projects.
Is there a Puddingstone in Ramapoís future? We can conclude that the interest of Gershon Alexander and Harold Cook in Ramapo extends beyond good citizenship.
Lines 15, 38 and 41
This is truly outrageous.
When Preserve Ramapo commented about the $5,000 contribution of Sonnaro Development of Syracuse, they were looking at the tip of the iceberg. Why is someone in Syracuse interested in Supervisor St. Lawrence?
There is no Sonnaro in the Syracuse phone book but there is a Santaro. Santaro (not Santoro) is a hauler for the RCSWMA. See the Solid Waste Authority minutes of 9/29/05 (www.rocklandrecycles.com/about_us/docs/092905.pdf and www.rocklandrecycles.com/about_us/docs/4-27-06minutes.pdf). The Sonnaro/Santaro story doesnít end here.
Another $2,000 Christopher P. St. Lawrence contributor is Heather Santino; 6325 Steinway Drive; Jamesville, NY 13078. Why does someone in Jamesville, NY have an interest in re-electing someone 225 miles away?
Once again there was an address problem. There is no such address as 6325 Steinway Drive (verified at the USPS ZIP code website). There is a 6235 Steinway Drive. Another typing error?
It was no surprise to discover that there is no phone listed for Heather Santino at 6235 Steinway Drive. Who lives at 6235 Steinway Drive? The totally surprising answer is Robert J. and Heather J. Santaro. Although Heather "Santino" wants Christopher St. Lawrence re-elected where she canít vote, she is not a registered voter in Jamesville as of 10/12/07 where she can vote.
To help you keep score-
5/15/07--Heather "Santino" contributed $2,000
5/17/07--Sonnaro Development contributed $5,000
8/28/07--Santoro Trucking contributed $2,000
Does the Friends of Christopher St. Lawrence truly expect us to believe that this is not an attempt to hide the source of these contributions?
Lines 17 and 18
To see one example of why Commissioner St. Lawrence is important to Holland and Knight, do a Google search on Rockland County Sewer and click on the sewer district link; then click on Board Meeting Minutes and then the minutes of the 04-27-06 meeting. These minutes are a must read.
This is very likely an illegal contribution by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) since it exceeds the $.05 per registered voter limit allowed by law.
John J OíKeefe Jr. is the President of the Ramapo Land Co. Is this the same John OíKeefe?
Line 21 and line 36
Two $2,000 contributors in Newark, Owen Lofredo and John Note, raise a serious question. It is very clear that either someone is masking a $4,000 contribution or there is an extremely remarkable coincidence.
First there is Owen Lofredo; 280 Ferry Street; Newark, NJ 07195. As far as we could find out there is no resident at 280 Ferry Street named Owen Lofredo. There is no one named Owen Lofredo in Newark or anywhere in New Jersey. There is nothing in Google and there is nothing in a variety of public documents.
The address for John Note is given as Ferry Plaza; Newark, NJ 07105.
The difference in zip code and street address would lead a reasonable person to the reasonable conclusion that these locations are not located near one another in Newark. It was not too difficult to discover that this is a totally incorrect conclusion. First, the zip code of 280 Ferry Street is 07105. The charitable explanation would be a typing error. Read on because the next question is where and what is Ferry Plaza.
Ferry Plaza is a shopping mall located at 281 Ferry Street. Pathmark, Carvel, Valley National Bank, etc. are located there. No one named John Note could be located at Ferry Plaza. Ferry Plaza is an Urban Renewal Project so 280 and 281 Ferry Street are obviously not in a high rent district and $2,000 contributions are unlikely in this neighborhood.
Who are Owen Lofredo and John Note and what is their interest in Christopher P. St.Lawrence?
Jackson Associates does engineering consultation for Ramapo. Leonard Jackson also contributed $250.00 on 5/9/07.
Lines 23 and 24
These are two different spellings for the same person whose name is actually Kimberlea Shaw Rea, an attorney with the law firm of Bosworth, Gray and Fuller. Ramapo is one of the firmís clients apparently representing the town in environmental issues.
Who is Lee OíNeil with the ambiguous address of Rt. 59 in Suffern? It seems that two checks were written for a total of $1,000. Is anything being hidden here?
The $3,500.00 from Michael Tauber (Monsey Rt. 59 Associates), the developer of Tartikov, has been discussed at length on the Preserve Ramapo website. The check number is 2360 dated 4/18/07.
Naomi Streicher, a local real estate broker contributed $500.00. Her check number 2361 is dated 4/16/07.
Is there a connection between these last two contributions?
The Ramapo Land Co. is a very large land-holder and developer. Does anything more need to be said?
Shifra Dirnfeld is president of Tov Electric, an electrical contractor.
Lines 42 and 43
Stearns and Wheeler has been discussed on the Preserve Ramapo website. The total contribution of $4,196 very likely violates NYS law.
Itís about construction and building roads.
Union State Bank is one of the official town depository banks (see the State of the Town Message 2007 at the Ramapo website).
Here is the entire list of town depository banks
Bank of New York
First Union Bank
M & T Bank
North Fork Bank
Union State Bank
Charter One Commercial Bank
Premier National Bank
J P Morgan Chase
Hudson United Bank
Were any banks in Ramapo left out?
J P Morgan Chase contributed $150.00 and the president of Provident Bank, George Strayton, contributed $125.00.
United Water is in the newspaper almost every day with a new major problem. Now they propose a poorly conceived idea to solve future water shortages with Hudson River water. United Water needs all the political help and support money can buy. The United Water of NY Employee PAC contributed $250.00 on 5/30/07.
Lines 50 and 51
Recycles waste for compost, etc.
Supervisor St. Lawrence might ask us to suspend reality and accept the notion that these are nothing more than honest errors, the result of illegible handwriting and an appreciation of his job performance. Checks come with the name and address imprinted. Poor handwriting is not an excuse. If there is nothing to hide, then why are there so many deceptions for the larger contributions? Christopher P. St. Lawrence canít attempt the "glitch excuse" he used in 2005 when the lie of having graduated Harvard was exposed. The reality is that his name and fingerprints are all over this.
An election is a job performance review. His job performance is dismal.
This is where the bread crumbs have led us.