According to a memo from the County Executive’s office, County Attorney, Thomas Humbach stated that elected officials who are being paid for their positions as commissioners of a Rockland County Sewer District, are actually not entitled to salaries and must pay the money they have received back. Town Supervisors Andy Stewart of Orangetown, Christopher St. Lawrence of Ramapo, and Alex Gromack of Clarkstown, as well as Hillburn Mayor Craig Flanagan, Spring Valley Mayor Demeza Delhomme, and Sloatsburg Trustee Daniel O’Leary, were informed in January that county law orders that elected officials do not get paid and they would not continue receiving salaries, and recently they were informed that they must pay back the money. Of the officials who responded to the memo, most stated that they would follow the county’s order, while some questioned if it is possible to get all the money back because of income and social security taxes that have already been paid. The thirteen seats on the sewer district board are filled by the Legislature, eight are for elected officials and five are reserved for residents who are allowed by county law to receive a salary. Former Clarkstown Councilman John Maloney who finished his term in 2009, remained as a commissioner in the seat reserved for an elected official, though he stated that he was a commissioner in the seat reserved for an elected official, though he stated that he was appointed as a residential commissioner. He was asked to step down in January following Humbach’s description of county law. All of the officials agreed in January to continue serving without pay.
A judge has made a new ruling in the ongoing case against former Spring Valley Mayor Noramie Jasmin, who was arrested in 2013 for allegedly accepting bribes in exchange for political favors. Earlier in March Jasmin and her attorney filed papers with the court requesting that evidence obtained by the FBI through cooperating witness Moses Stern, who wore a wire and recorded conversations with the former Mayor, be thrown out. Defense Attorney Benjamin Ostrer argued that Stern led his client in the conversation to make her appear guilty of some crimes. On Wednesday a federal judge ordered the audio of Jasmin allegedly telling Stern to eliminate absentee ballots in a certain election may not be used in court since it is not related to the indictment filed by prosecutors. According to the judge the other audio tapes presented as evidence can be used during the trial.
According to a U.S. Census Bureau report detailed by the Journal News, Rockland County had the largest population growth in Rockland increased by 4% to 323,866 people since 2010. Rockland was the third on the list of counties with the highest increase, along with Queens and Brooklyn who also had a 4% increase each. According to the information the counties int the Lower Hudson Valley all saw increases, while areas in upstate New York have decreased over the last five years, researchers crediting the numbers to the related crediting the numbers to the related economies, though in Rockland’s case the population changes may not coincide with a rising economy, but with current residents staying or new ones moving in for other reasons.
An eleven month long investigation by the District Attorney’s office and the Rockland Drug Task Force into the sale of prescription drugs in Rockland County led to the arrest of 29 people. At a press conference on Wednesday District Attorney Thomas Zugibe stated that the dealers arrested were selling drugs including Oxycodone and heroin at the shopping centers throughout the county, such as the Palisades Center and the Shops at Nanuet. During the undercover investigation officers purchased drugs from the dealers, who obtained and and sold nearly $1 million of pills by forging prescriptions and in some cases pretending to be doctors, and also searched the homes of all those involved, discovering forgery equipment, as well as various drugs. The charges include federal charges of conspiracy and state charges of fourth-degree conspiracy, all felonies.
There is still time to buy your tickets for the first annual Furball, which is on Friday March 27 at 6:30 to 11:00 PM and is honoring Christopher Puzio, the founder of Rockland Veterinary; Gordon Wren and the Fire Training Center; and Valley Cottage Animal Hospital. The event will take place at Nyack Seaport, tickets are $75 per person or $700 for a table of ten and you can purchase them by visiting hitor.org or calling the shelter at (845)354-7900. All proceeds go to Hi Tor’s campaign for a new shelter or the animals and the evening includes dinner, dancing, raffles, and a silent auction.
The Rockland County Department of Health and fire officials are teaming up to provide information that can save lives when it comes to fires in your home. According to a release sent out by Rockland Health Commissioner Dr. Patricia Schnabel Rupert, the main thing that people can do to increase their chances of survival during fires is to have a working smoke detector in the home. Through the healthy neighborhood program residents who cannot afford smoke detectors and meet the guidelines can receive one from the health department and have it installed at no cost. It is recommended that you replace your batteries twice a year, and replace the entire detector every ten years, there should be one on every floor of your home. Create an exit plan with your family, for example where to meet outside of the house in the event of an emergency. Never smoke in bed, never leave a stove or hot surface unattended, and make sure to have all of appliances, chimney, and furnace inspected in a timely manner. For more tips and information on the healthy neighborhood program call 845-364-3292 or 845-364-3290.
According to the New York Lottery, a Pennsylvania man is the winner of a 7 million dollar scratch off ticket sold in New City. Officials stated that a Rockland county resident bought the ticket and mailed it to his son in a card. The winner will be presented with the check this morning at 10:30 for his jackpot, which he won from the 7 million dollar gold ticket scratch off game bought at just a dollar on North Main Street.
On sunday, a video was released online expressing what many members of the Orthodox Jewish community feel is growing anti-semitism in Rockland County. The narration in the video titled “the Jew in Rockland”, which was produced by Colossal PR, begins with the comparison of a Facebook page to nazi propaganda released in Europe during the Holocaust. The video caused controversy in the county, and was aimed at the Facebook page named “Block the Block Vote” and various offensive comments that have been posted there. The creators of the video, Yossi Gestetner and Benny Polatseck stated to the journal news that they created the nearly six-minute video to expose hatred in the county targeted at the Jewish community, in the video the narrator is heard referencing offensive comments and images from the social media site, and comparing the situation to the early Nazi regime in Germany. County Executive Ed Day stated in a response to the video, “the divisive statements by some to compare the deliberate, systematic murder of millions of Jews to our way of life and free speech in Rockland county are abhorrent. Comparisons to Nazi Germany are offensive and irresponsible – hateful and outrageous rhetoric that can only divide Rockland county.” According to the journal news story, the creator of the Facebook page, James Foley stated that some comments are offensive, but he does not agree with them and feels they weaken his position, which is to “end the current financial abuse of the Rockland County community at large by the Orthodox and Hasidic communities.” The full video can be found on youtube.
Rockland County Executive Ed Day and a group of residents traveled to Albany to meet with several New York senators about the proposed East Ramapo oversight bill. The bill would allow a state appointed fiscal monitor to override decisions made by the district’s school board an would require a five-year improvement plan be put into action as well. Day stated that the issue is not just an East Ramapo one, but one that affects the entire county, and the future of the students. According to Day the meeting was to gain support of the Senate and to discuss opposition to the bill, which has been primarily from Legislator Aaron Weider who stated that allowing the monitor to override decisions would take away the Democratic rights of officials elected by the public.
According to the District Attorney’s office, a Haverstraw man was arrested for allegedly stealing the from the state of New York’s unemployment benefits. 37-year old Ramon Delacruz was charged with a felony count of second-degree grand larceny for assisting about ten people living outside of the country obtain unemployment benefits, totaling about $100,000. According to District Attorney Thomas Zugibe, Delacruz’s scheme was uncovered during an investigation done by the Rockland DA’s Office as well as the State Department of Labor and U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The man faces up to seven years in prison.