Just two months ago we reported about a N.J. Rabbi sentenced to 22 years in prison for being the mastermind of a $200 million fraud. Now just across the river, a New York Rabbi was sentenced to 5 years probation for tax evasion. Both crimes involved very insular and orthodox communities within the Jewish faith.
Earlier this spring, Haredi Rabbi Yaakov Weingarten was convicted of felony tax fraud in a Brooklyn, New York state court. Now we have learned that he was sentenced to 5 years probation and was slapped with a $520,000 civil judgment stemming from a charitable fundraising organization he ran with his wife. Prosecutors say he solicited money for fictitious charities and then used much of the money for his own purposes including house payments. According to published reports, $360,000 of any civil recovery must be paid to two legitimate charities in Israel. The court also permanently barred Weingarten from conducting any other fundraising activities.
In announcing the sentence, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said, “We are committed to fighting to protect everyday New Yorkers, particularly those who want to use some of their hard-earned money to support charitable causes, because there has to be one set of rules for everyone. My office will use all the tools at our disposal to protect New Yorkers from unscrupulous fundraisers for sham charities.” Weingarten had reportedly told donors that their money was being used to assist terror attack victims, poor children and cancer patients in Israel.
For his role in the tax evasion case – Weingarten was not reporting the $270,000 of money diverted from the charity scam – Weingarten was also ordered to pay $90,685 in back taxes.
NY’s state tax commissioner, Thomas Marlton, said in a prepared statement, “The defendant not only stole donations for charitable organizations, he also committed criminal tax fraud by failing to report income on his tax returns. Tax theft is a crime against all New Yorkers, and we will continue to work with the Attorney General and other levels of law enforcement to investigate and prosecute such perpetrators.”
Unfortunately, many fraud schemes thrive because the principals prey upon folks with close, religious, ethnic or fraternal ties. These so called affinity frauds happen daily. What makes this case somewhat unique is that prosecutors turned to criminal tax evasion charges to shut down the scam. Typically those who steal or embezzle money don’t report the proceeds of their crimes on tax returns making for an easy conviction.
The fraud recovery lawyers at Mahany & Ertl help victims recover their hard earned money. Typically we represent people who lost money as a result of fraud, Ponzi schemes, stockbroker fraud, accounting malpractice and real estate scams. We typically look to third parties such as accountants, banks and others that knew or should have known of the fraud yet failed to act. For more information, contact attorney Brian Mahany at or by telephone at (414) 223-0464. All inquiries kept in confidence.