FBI agents have descended on properties owned by Orthodox developer Shalom Lamm in the upstate New York village of Bloomingburg, according to eyewitness accounts and a report in the Time Herald-Record, a local newspaper.
Between 50 and 60 FBI agents have swarmed the town, with 20 FBI vehicles parked outside the Bloomingbug headquarters of Lamm’s development firm, according to Teek Persaud, a local business owner and an opponent of Lamm’s development project.
A spokesperson for the FBI in New York confirmed that the FBI had conducted “multiple searches” in Bloomingburg as part of an ongoing investigation. The spokesperson would not comment on the nature of the investigation.
A spokesman for Black Creek, Lamm’s firm, acknowledged the FBI investigation. “The FBI is reviewing allegations — and they are only allegations,” said Joel Cohen, attorney for Black Creek. “We feel confident that when the dust settles they will find no wrongdoing.”
Lamm is building a controversial 396-unit development in the village of Bloomingburg that has faced significant local opposition. He has also bought up a large portion of the buildings on and around the village’s small main street. Members of the ultra-Orthodox Satmar Hasidic group plan to move to the Lamm’s development once construction is complete.
Lamm has recently faced allegations of voter fraud in the run-up to local village elections in Bloomingburg, as over 100 new voters have registered to vote in the village — many of them from addresses owned by Lamm. Just 24 people voted in the last Bloomingburg village election.
The Time Herald-Record reported that FBI agents arrived in Bloomingburg on March 13 and have visited at least three Lamm-owned properties, including a house at 137 Main Street. Opponents of the development project say that the house has been listed as a home address by 20 newly registered voters, according to the Herald Record.
Josh Nathan-Kazis is a staff writer for the Forward. He covers charities and politics, and writes investigations and longform.