In a coda to the investigation of Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind and various associates, Rabbi Elliot Amsel, a key Hikind fund-raiser, pleaded guilty Wednesday to stealing more than $700,000 from Syrit College, the Brooklyn computer school he ran until his indictment.
Jewish Week stories invoked in closing arguments in Brooklyn assemblyman’s federal corruption case; judge narrows charges
by Lawrence Cohler-Esses
Defense attorney Benjamin Brafman launched his summation this week in the Dov Hikind federal corruption trial. One of his first targets was The Jewish Week. “The evidence is incontrovertible this case began with a series of articles in The Jewish Week,” he told the jury. “Are they fair? Or are they simply an organization that didn’t like chasidim, or an Orthodox organization?”
A key prosecution witness has been harassed and threatened in an effort to intimidate him from testifying in the trial of Assemblyman Dov Hikind and Rabbi Elimelech Naiman, federal prosecutors claimed this week.
The alleged tactics, by members of the Ger chasidic sect, have not been tied by prosecutors to either of the defendants. And at the judge’s urging, Naiman, a Ger leader, has obtained rulings from Ger religious courts in Jerusalem and Brooklyn demanding that any such actions cease.
The courtroom light switches off, the overhead projector flicks on. And once more, the prosecutor speaks dryly of checks, contracts and budgets as the documents are projected on screen to the jurors. There are checks from the Council of Jewish Organizations of Boro Park — then Brooklyn’s largest Jewish community council — and its spinoffs to the political coffers of Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind, and other political campaigns.
There are government contracts sponsored by Hikind and awarded to the council for social service programs.