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Will Noramie Jasmin, Joseph Desmaret resign in wake of corruption probe?
Just one day after Spring Valley Mayor Noramie Jasmin and the deputy mayor were brought down in a corruption scheme that spread from Rockland County to New York City, focus shifted from the hectic Village Hall to an unfinished mansion in a nearby hamlet.
A handful of reporters from across the Hudson Valley and New York City gathered outside Moses "Mark" Stern's Monsey home on Remsen Avenue on Wednesday afternoon, waiting to speak to the man sources say led federal agents to the Spring Valley pair as well as four New York City politicians. All six are allegedly entangled in an elaborate plot including bribes and back-door deals to land state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-Queens) -- who was also arrested -- on the GOP ticket for the city's mayoral race.
Stern's checkered past is heavy in bribery and debt -- including $126 million he owes to Citigroup.
Cars stopped to inquire about the commotion on the normally quiet suburban street -- and also to look at the pink-and-white brick mansion -- causing several traffic jams throughout the day. Passersby who knew Stern were indifferent to the news of his involvement and described him as a "nice man."
Others called his unfinished abode "grotesquely luxurious," an eyesore to some who have watched it slowly build up since the mid-2000s.
The unintended unveiling of the probe's confidential witness Wednesday may have taken pressure -- at least in the media -- off of the arrest of Jasmin and Deputy Mayor Joseph A. Desmaret, and perhaps gave officials time to regroup.
In Spring Valley Village Hall on Tuesday, workers scurried through the corridors attempting to create order and ensuring that reporters were kept away from the building.
On Wednesday, Walter Booker, head of the village's Buildings Department, declined to speak with a reporter, citing a directive from Village Attorney Kevin Conway that employees not speak to the media.
"It would be under his discretion," Booker said of an interview.
In a quick news conference earlier in the day, Jasmin delivered a 37-second statement in front of crowd of reporters inside an auditorium in the adjacent police headquarters building.
"I'm asking the community not to prejudge me, rather to keep me in your prayers for my good name to [be] restore[d]," she said.
Jasmin hurried out of the room while ducking questions from reporters.
Demeza Delhomme, a Spring Valley trustee since 1999, said he spoke with Jasmin earlier in the day and described her mood as "down."
"Anyone who would get to that position would be down," he said.
But the question remains: Who will run Spring Valley?
Neither Jasmin nor Desmaret has publicly announced whether he or she will remain or resign.
Delhomme said he will continue talks with the village attorney Thursday to decide who will be in charge.
And although the trustee wouldn't discuss the details of their conversation, he said Jasmin did not mention her future plans.
"We will decide after tomorrow who is in charge," Delhomme said.