Grand jury indicts suspended Town of Monroe judge
Democrat Lurlyn Winchester charged with making false statements, obstruction of justice
BY ERIKA NORTON
MONROE — A federal grand jury filed an indictment against former Town of Monroe Judge Lurlyn Winchester on charges of making false statements to a mortgage lender and obstruction of justice in a scheme to hide that she didn’t live in Monroe and therefore didn’t qualify to be town justice in Monroe.
The indictment filed in U.S. District Court last week was the latest step in a case first brought by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in June against the 58-year-old Rockland County attorney.
Winchester was elected in 2013 to be one of the Town of Monroe’s two part-time judges, but was suspended from her post in June following the criminal charges.
Alleged mortgage fraudThe 11-page indictment lays out an account of Winchester’s alleged duplicity, similar to the initial complaint filed against her in June.
According to prosecutors, Winchester owned a house with her husband in New City since 1997. In 2013, she was nominated to be the Democratic candidate for Town of Monroe Justice, at which time she provided an address in Monroe as her residence and later registered to vote in Monroe.
After she was elected in November, over the next year, she began trying to buy a condo in Monroe.
In order to obtain a mortgage, prosecutors say Winchester falsely claimed that the condo would be her main home and that she and her husband were renting out their New City house to a tenant.
To support her claim, she went so far as to a submit fake lease agreements and phony rent checks from their purported tenant.
Ultimately in April of 2015, the couple purchased a condo in the Hidden Creek complex in Monroe. But according to prosecutors, a tenant never moved into the New City home and Winchester never moved into the Monroe condo.
When FBI investigators interviewed Winchester in July, prosecutors say she obstructed justice by providing false documents to support her claims. She claimed the documents showed that a tenant had intended to rent her New City home, but decided not to after their girlfriend’s death.
Winchester was arrested in June and released on $50,000 bond. She pleaded not guilty at her arraignment on Nov. 9.
Election this yearDespite these pending criminal charges, Winchester petitioned in July to run for a second four-year term as town justice. The Orange County Board of Elections invalidated her petitions for re-election because the witnesses listed in her petitions did not live in Monroe, as required.
In 2013, Winchester defeated Audra Schwartz — a United Monroe candidate primarily supported by town residents — to be elected Town of Monroe Justice, receiving support from the Village of Kiryas Joel.
This year on November 7, one day before Winchester’s indictment was filed, Monroe voters elected Schwartz to replace Winchester when her term expires at the end of the year.
Monroe’s other justice, Steven Milligram, has assumed Winchester’s case load since her arrest.