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.
One side painted the charity and the assemblyman as partners in a complex web of corruption, deceit and political manipulation.
The other side cited their partnership as the instrument that lifted up the lives of hundreds of thousands, Jews and non-Jews, helping them find jobs, housing and training.
A Brooklyn native voluntarily returned to New York from Israel and pleaded guilty for his role in a drug-money laundering scandal involving members of the Bobover chasidic sect, two prominent Orthodox community leaders and a Colombian cartel.
In the unusual scenario, Michael Halberstam agreed to a plea bargain last month with the office of the U.S. Attorney's Eastern District. His surrender contrasts with recent episodes (notably the Samuel Sheinbein murder case) in which the United States has attempted to extradite Americans from Israel.
The son of the founder of the chasidic village of New Square was among four men convicted this week of stealing more than $11 million from federal education, housing and social service benefits programs in a decade-long scam.
A federal jury in White Plains deliberated five days before reaching the verdict on three men from the Rockland County village and one man from Brooklyn.
The former dean of a Brooklyn-based yeshiva the government charges was fictitious and stole millions in federal subsidies testified in federal court Tuesday that he helped fake documents to obtain state accreditation in order to receive grants from the state and U.S. Department of Education.
Abraham Berkowitz was testifying in the trial of four chasidic men — three from the upstate village of New Square and one from Brooklyn — charged with stealing millions of dollars from federal and state benefit programs during a decades-old conspiracy.
Rabbi Mahir Reiss, a respected Brooklyn businessman and Orthodox Jewish philanthropist credited with resolving international Jewish religious disputes, was sentenced to 27 months and fined $6.3 million for his role in an international money-laundering scheme involving a Colombian drug ring. In handing down the sentence, U.S. District Judge Jack Weinstein on Wednesday based his decision on whether the 48-year-old Reiss knew that the illegal money he was laundering involved drugs. Assistant U.S. Attorney Lee Dunst contended Reiss knew.