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Tempers Flare at Bloomingburg Meeting After Orthodox Developer’s Arrest

A meeting of fire commissioners in Bloomingburg turned sour last night amid recriminations over the federal voter fraud indictments that have rocked the upstate New York village, the Times Herald-Record reported.

Federal prosecutors indicted Orthodox developer Shalom Lamm last week on charges that he and two other men conspired to register ineligible voters to participate in 2014 mayoral elections in Bloomingburg.

The indictments re-opened a long-running fight in Bloomingburg over Lamm’s plans to build thousands of units of housing in the village for Hasidic Jews.

Lamm’s attorneys deny the charges.

The fire commission meeting on Tuesday night was the first public meeting in the village since indictments came down last week. Bloomingburg mayor Russell Wood, who was elected this year with the support of pro-Lamm factions, sits on the commission. So does Harold Baird, who was Lamm’s preferred candidate in the 2014 village elections, and who prosecutors announced last week had pled guilty last to submitting a false voter registration form in 2014 that stated that he lived in Bloomingburg, when in fact he did not.

According to a statement from prosecutors, Baird could face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He has yet to be sentenced.

Villagers who attended the fire commissioner’s meeting directed their anger at both Wood and Baird, according to the Herald-Record report.

“The crowd taunted Wood, who barely turned to face them,” the Herald-Record’s Amanda Loviza reported.

The village fire commissioner read a letter from Baird stating that he would not take office as commissioner when his new term begins in January. Amid protests from the crowd, the commissioners voted to demand Baird’s immediate resignation from the fire commission.

After the meeting, Wood told the Herald-Record that he would not resign as village mayor.

Contact Josh Nathan-Kazis at nathankazis@forward.com or follow him on Twitter, @joshnathankazis.

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