Wednesday, June 07, 2017
Chestnut Ridge developer Shalom Lamm's guilty plea to voter fraud in federal court on Tuesday is "vindication," Mamakating Supervisor Bill Herrmann said.
It is, he said, "what we maintained all along."
But the guilty plea is not the end of it.
Herrmann said that due to voter fraud, the village should be dissolved. Bloomingburg Mayor Russell Wood Jr. could not be reached for comment.
Herrmann explained that he has been cooperating with the FBI for the past three years. He believes what federal investigators have been able to uncover so far is just the tip of the iceberg.
"I wish the state or the feds would step in and just dissolve it (Bloomingburg)," Herrmann said. "I'm hoping their investigation goes deeper into corruption with this development and the assets will be seized."
Co-conspirator Kenneth Nakdimen entered a similar guilty plea less than two weeks ago.
Herrmann said he is anxious to provide victim impact statements on behalf of the community when Lamm and Nakdimen are sentenced later this year.
"We have every intention to ask the judge to impose a heavier sentence for such a serious crime," Herrmann said.
Mamakating is continuing its lawsuit to stop the development of Chestnut Ridge, Herrmann said. Fifty certificates of occupancy have been issued for Chestnut Ridge, Bloomingburg Village Clerk Blake Call said Tuesday.
After Nakdimen entered his guilty plea on May 25, the Sullivan County Legislature began making plans to curb voter fraud. Sullivan County Manager Josh Potosek said Tuesday that discussions on those plans have not yet begun.
Legislator Catherine Owens, who is married to Herrmann, said the legislature might reopen the $575,000 discrimination case brought by Hasidic voters last year. The settlement required the county to pay $550,000 in legal fees and give each of the 10 Bloomingburg residents who were part of the federal suit $2,500 each - or $25,000 total.
"My standpoint is that I was the only one (legislator) who voted against the Board of Election settlement in January of last year," Owens said.
Meanwhile, construction at Chestnut Ridge is continuing, according to a group of mothers on Tuesday at Chestnut Ridge. They said they moved up from New York City and are happy with their new housing.
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