A federal judge in Manhattan sentenced a Maryland-based rabbi to 51 months in prison for defrauding contributors to his Save a Torah Foundation and selling scrolls with “bogus Holocaust provenance.” As reported by The Washington Post, the Baltimore resident, who was also a Torah scribe who managed his family’s Jewish bookstore in Wheaton, pled guilty in February to mail and wire fraud. The rabbi claimed that he found holy relics at concentration camps, monasteries, and mass graves in Europe, though passport records show he never traveled there.
Prosecutors stated that instead he bought old Torahs from local dealers who made no claims that the scrolls had Holocaust-related historic value, and sold them to individuals with tales of “rescuing the sacred Torah scrolls lost during the Holocaust.” In a 43-page sentencing memo, prosecutors said that the man used these fabricated stories to raise $1.4 million for his charity, and was recently liquidating and reassigning his assets to avoid paying restitution.
As part of his sentencing, the 51-year-old rabbi was also ordered to pay more than $990,000 in restitution to his victims and received three years probation in addition to his prison sentence.
The 51-year-old was a popular figure in the local Jewish scene, and more than 50 of his alleged Holocast Torahs made their way to congregations in the Washington area and beyond. Among the purchasers of the rabbi’s Torahs were children of Holocaust survivors and philanthropists. The sentencing was the result of a case launched after an article in the Post debunked the man’s heroic stories.
The criminal defense lawyers at the law firm of Alpert Schreyer understand the seriousness of fraud charges and the severe punishments one may face upon conviction. With our legal knowledge and resources, our lawyers aim to create an aggressive defense to defend you against harsh penalties and are dedicated to protecting your legal rights throughout your case. To see how we can provide you with exceptional legal representation, please call (866) 444-6363.