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Shonda file: Spinka Rebbe Naftali Tzi Weisz sentenced to two years in prison for tax evasion

December 22, 2009 Leave a comment

LOS ANGELES (Press Release)– The Grand Rabbi of Spinka, a religious group within Orthodox Judaism, was sentenced Monday morning to two years in federal prison for orchestrating a tax evasion scheme that prosecutors called “an astonishingly complex and sinister enterprise.”

Grand Rabbi Naftali Tzi Weisz, 61, of Brooklyn, New York, pleaded guilty last summer to a criminal conspiracy charge in which he admitting working with others to obstruct the Internal Revenue Service by soliciting charitable donations to Spinka-related organizations with secret promises to refund donors the vast majority of the money they “donated.”

Weisz was sentenced by United States District Judge John F. Walter, who echoed findings in a pre-sentence report that the refunding and laundering of charitable contributions is a routine and generational practice among certain Hasidic sects that has resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars of unreported income.

Following Weisz’s sentencing, Judge Walter sentenced the final defendant involved in the scheme to defraud the Internal Revenue Service when he ordered that Yaacov Zeivald, 45, of Valley Village, California, go to prison for four months for participating in the underground money transfer system that allowed some of the donors to be reimbursed for their “donations.”

With the sentencings of Weisz and Zeivald, a total of seven individuals have been convicted and sentenced for working together to obstruct the IRS and to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business. Additionally, three donors who “donated” money to Spinka organizations have pleaded guilty to tax evasion prior to indictment and received sentences ranging from three months to six months in prison. Prosecutors have told judge Walter that authorities are investigating more than 100 individuals who were contributors to Spinka organizations. In sentencing one of the donors earlier this year to six months in prison, Judge Walter said that the crime reflected “arrogance” and that other contributors who do not come forward to authorities could face “significantly higher” sentences.

Weisz, several associates and five charitable organizations associated with Spinka were indicted by a federal grand jury two years ago in a scheme in which Weisz and his assistant solicited millions of dollars of contributions to the Spinka organizations by promising to secretly refund up to 95 percent of the contributions. In this manner, the contributors could claim as tax deductions the full amounts of their contributions, while actually having contributed as little as 5 percent of the amount they would declare on their federal income tax returns.

Weisz’s assistant, Gabbai Moshe E. Zigelman, 62, also of Brooklyn, pleaded guilty last year to conspiring with Weisz and was sentenced to two years in federal prison.

According to court documents, Weisz and Zigelman surreptitiously refunded up to 95 percent of the contributions through several methods. In some cases, the contributors received cash payments through an underground money transfer network involving various parties, some of whom operated businesses in and around the Los Angeles jewelry district. In addition to Zeivald, three other men pleaded guilty and have been sentenced. Yosef Nachum Naiman, 57, of Los Angeles, was sentenced last Monday to four months in prison, ordered to perform 1,500 hours of community service, and ordered to pay a $25,000 fine, which is in addition to $10,000 he previously forfeited to the government; Alan Jay Friedman, 45, of Los Angeles, was sentenced last Monday to four months in prison, ordered to perform 1,500 hours of community service, and ordered to pay a $15,000 fine; and Moshe Arie Lazar, 62, of Los Angeles, was sentenced last Wednesday to four months in prison, ordered to perform 1,500 hours of community service, and ordered to forfeit $146,164 to the government.

A second method used to reimburse contributors was wire transfers from Spinka-controlled entities into accounts secretly held at a bank in Israel. The accounts were established with the assistance of an international accounts manager at the bank, Joseph Roth, 68, of Tel Aviv, who received a 14-month prison sentence after pleading guilty to helping contributors in the United States obtain loans from the Los Angeles branch of the Israeli bank, loans that were secured by the funds in the secret bank accounts in Israel, so the contributors could have the use of the funds in the United States.

One of the Spinka charitable organizations – Yeshiva Imrei Yosef – also pleaded guilty and is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Walter on January 15.

“This was not a case about religion, tradition, or charitable giving. This was simply a case about greed,” said Leslie P. DeMarco, Special Agent in Charge of IRS – Criminal Investigation’s Los Angeles Field Office. “Grand Rabbi Naftali Weisz exploited his position in the community, knowingly using the Spinka charitable organizations for the benefit of greedy donors. Today’s sentencings close this aspect of the investigation.  The donors, who were refunded up to 95 percent of the contributions they made to the Spinka charities but falsely claimed a charitable contribution deduction for the entire donation, are put on notice that they, too, have committed a crime, and that crime is tax fraud.”

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and IRS-Criminal Investigation.

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Preceding provided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation

Shonda file: FBI linguist pleads guilty to leaking secrets

December 18, 2009 Leave a comment

GREENBELT, Maryland (Press Release)–A former FBI contract linguist pleaded guilty today to unlawfully providing classified documents to the host of an Internet blog who then published information derived from those documents on the blog.

Shamai Kedem Leibowitz, aka Samuel Shamai Leibowitz, 39, of Silver Spring, Md., pleaded guilty in federal court in Greenbelt, Md., to a one-count information charging him with knowingly and willfully disclosing to an unauthorized person five FBI documents classified at the “secret” level that contained classified information concerning the communication intelligence activities of the United States.

Under the plea agreement, the government and Leibowitz have agreed that a term of 20 months in prison is the appropriate sentence in this case.  The court may accept or reject the plea agreement between the government and Leibowitz.  In addition, the court retains discretion to impose any lawful term of supervised release or fine, and to set any lawful conditions of supervised release.

“The willful disclosure of classified information to those not entitled to receive it is a serious crime,” said David Kris, Assistant Attorney General for National Security. “Today’s guilty plea should serve as a warning to anyone in government who would consider compromising our nation’s secrets.”

“Government employees who are given access to classified information are prohibited from disclosing the information without permission,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein.

“As a trusted member of the FBI ranks, Leibowitz abused the trust of the FBI and the American public by using his access to classified information for his own purposes,” said Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely.

According to the plea agreement, from January 2009 through August 2009, Leibowitz was employed by the FBI as a contract linguist in an office in Calverton, Md. As part of his official duties, Leibowitz held a top secret security clearance and had lawful access to classified documents and information relating to the communication intelligence activities of the United States.

In April 2009, according to the plea agreement, Leibowitz knowingly and willfully caused five documents that were classified at the secret level and which contained classified information relating to the communication intelligence activities of the United States, to be furnished to a person not entitled to receive such information.

The recipient was the host of a public blog available to anyone with access to the Internet. The recipient then published on the blog information derived from the classified documents provided by Leibowitz.

This investigation was conducted by the FBI Baltimore Field Office. The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven M. Dunne, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland, and Trial Attorney Kathleen M. Kedian, of the Counterespionage Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

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Preceding provided by the U.S. Justice Department

Shonda file: Kosher slaughterhouse operator convicted on 86 counts of fraud

November 13, 2009 Leave a comment

SIOUX FALLS, South Dakota (WJC)–A jury in the US state of South Dakota has convicted Sholom Rubashkin, the former owner of the leading Iowa-based kosher slaughterhouse AgriProcessors, of 86 out of 91 fraud charges. The decision means that Rubashkin, 50, will spend likely the rest of his life in prison as the combined sentences could reach over 1,250 years.

Jurors declared the former AgriProcessors vice-president guilty of bank fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud and money laundering. He also was convicted of 15 of 20 charges that he ignored an order to pay livestock providers in the 24-hour window required by law.

Former Agriprocessors employees testified that Rubashkin had personally directed them to create false invoices to show First Bank, which is based in St. Louis, that the plant had more money flowing in than it really did. Rubashkin will also have to stand a second trial, in which he is charged with 72 counts of immigration fraud.
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Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress