BLOOMINGBURG – Against a background of continued acrimony at village board meetings and a new lawsuit filed by the Town of Mamakating against the village over planning approvals granted for the controversial Chestnut Ridge project in Bloomingburg, the developers Shalom Lamm and Kenneth Nakdimen had their first day in court Wednesday on federal charges of voter fraud conspiracy. Or rather, their lawyers came to a pre-trial conference at the federal district court in White Plains before Judge Vincent Briccetti.
"The defendants hoped to make hundreds of millions from their real estate projects," the indictment read. "When met with resistance rather than seek to advance their real estate projects through legitimate means, the defendants instead decided to corrupt the electoral process in Bloomingburg by falsely registering voters and paying bribes for voters who would elect public officials favorable to their projects."
Meanwhile the Town of Mamakating's latest lawsuit brought a dismissive comment from attorney and consultant Michael Fragin, speaking on Lamm's behalf.
"This is at least the fifth lawsuit from the town to stop occupancy of the Chestnut Ridge project," it read. "We expect this one will be rejected by the courts as the others were before."
In support of their new suit, Mamakating supervisor Bill Herrmann wrote in a recently published column, "The town and its residents opposed the Chestnut Ridge Project when it became apparent that Lamm and his associates completely misrepresented what they had originally proposed, a golf course and 125 homes. We later learned he actually intended to create a city with 5,000 to 7,000 units and tens of thousands of new residents in a village of only 420 people."
Mamakating has hired a new New York City-based PR firm, Soury Communications, to get the town's message to all available media outlets. Their new lawsuit, recent press releases have pointed out, was spurred by State Supreme Court Justice Richard Mott's decision in January to uphold the town planning board's rescission of land use approvals for Chestnut Ridge, who found that that town board did still have jurisdiction over the village.
The village has since taken back planning and zoning powers from the town.
Commenting on the new PR hire, Michael Fragin said, "We have no comment on who the town hires other than to question as taxpayers whether, given the lack of success with past PR firms, this is a good use of public funds."
Herrmann and his board wrote, "Taxpayers need to ask themselves not why there are lawsuits against this project, as Fragin suggests, but why would the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and the FBI come to Mamakating to arrest Shalom Lamm and his associates if he did everything according to the law?"