As he battles federal corruption charges that could land him in prison, Spring Valley's embattled deputy mayor might soon lose his job with the Town of Ramapo.
Joseph A. Desmaret was put on leave Tuesday night from his $55,000-a-year (plus benefits) union job as a clerical worker for the sprawling Rockland County town's tax assessor's office. The move came hours after he and several other public officials were arrested by federal authorities Tuesday in a far-reaching vote-rigging and corruption scandal.
Desmaret, who also makes $25,750 a year as deputy mayor, still will collect a paycheck while he is on leave. Because he is a Civil Service employee, the town can't fire him without formal disciplinary charges being filed against him by the town.
Disciplinary charges could come as early as next week, when the Ramapo Town Board will consider a move to terminate his employment, according to Michael Klein, the town attorney.
It was unclear whether the union representing Desmaret was the Civil Service Employees Association. A call to the union was not immediately returned.
Desmaret and Spring Valley Mayor Noramie Jasmin, in the fourth year of her first term, were arrested Tuesday along with four New York City politicians. They allegedly were helping state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-Queens) -- who also was arrested in the corruption scandal -- in his bid to win the Republican slot in the upcoming New York City mayoral race.
Desmaret allegedly accepted a series of cash bribes from a cooperating witness in return for steering some $500,000 in state transportation funds to a community center project, according to the criminal complaint.
Desmaret could not be reached Thursday for comment. He said Wednesday that his lawyer had advised him not to speak publicly about the case.
Jasmin, 49, and Desmaret, 55, face 20 years behind bars if convicted of mail fraud. They are free on $250,000 bail.
On Wednesday, Jasmin denied any wrongdoing during a blink-of-the-eye news conference at Spring Valley Village Hall.
"We will vigorously defend against those charges to restore my good name," she said. "I'm asking the community not to prejudge me, rather to keep me in your prayers for my good name to restore."
At the center of the federal probe in Spring Valley was a community center that was to be built on a site adjacent to the Village Hall. Desmaret allegedly hooked up with the FBI-managed property sale and accepted $10,500 in cash bribes.
The Ramapo Town Board is expected to meet behind closed doors in executive session Monday night to discuss the issue and could take action as soon as Wednesday night, when board members will meet in a public session, Klein said.
Meanwhile, Spring Valley Trustee Anthony Leon is pushing for Jasmin and Desmaret to resign their seats on the board.