Monday, 26 November 2012

Weekly Rogues Gallery

By Richard Edmondson

Brace yourselves, readers, it’s time for another of our forays into the world of Jewish crime and corruption. Today we’re going to bring you the latest news about Jewish child molesters, specifically a story from Toronto and the most recent development in a sexual predator case there going back some 40 years, and we’ll also take a close look at a celebrity rabbi in Israel who has been implicated in a bribery scheme, as well as a Spinka rabbi who has been jailed in New York for refusing to testify in a federal probe of tax evasion in his community. But before we get to any of that, let me say a few things about the media.

In one of our previous Rogues’ Galleries , I commented on how the media frequently report stories involving rabbis being arrested on criminal charges. A typical story will usually involve some sort of expression of shock and disbelief, and in fact, those very words—“shock and disbelief” are comically uttered by the newsman in the following video. It’s as if the notion of rabbis committing crimes and being arrested for them are totally unprecedented, unheard of occurrences. Now that may seem amusing, in a way, but of course this is a striking departure from the manner in which the media report the arrests of Catholic priests, and I do want everyone to be aware that there is that double standard. And now for the fun—on with our video!


A bank in Israel suspected of being involved in laundering the money? No!!!! Say it ain’t so!!! Now a word of explanation. I posted this video because it’s the “Spinka” sect of Judaism that figures prominently in the following story as well. Another Spinka rebbe arrested? Well…I know you’re feeling a certain amount of “shock and disbelief,” but, yes…it seems this is the case. And notice also the b.s. about “mesira,” this Halakhic concept that Jews are not allowed to testify against other Jews. That sure makes it convenient, doesn’t it? But of course, the purpose it really serves is to reinforce the ghetto walls with which Jews surround themselves. I first became aware of this story earlier in the week when our friend Ariadna, at Bold Face News, sent me a link to an article posted a year ago at the UK website

Orthodox Rabbi May Face Jail for Refusing to Testify

Zionist Rabbi Moshe Zigelman says will not testify against fellow Jews, citing the Jewish prohibition of mesira, which prohibits Jews from turning their brethren into the secular authorities, the Times reported.


An Orthodox rabbi may face jail time for refusing to testify before a grand jury regarding the federal government’s ongoing probe of tax evasion in his community, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Rabbi Moshe Zigelman, a teacher and son of Holocaust survivors, has said that he will not testify against his fellow Jews, citing the Jewish prohibition of mesira, which prohibits Jews from turning their brethren into the secular authorities, the Times reported.

Zigelman has been ordered to testify in a tax-evasion case involving his Brooklyn-based Hasidic sect Spinka, the report said. This is not the first time he has invoked the principle of mesira, and in 2008 he was sentenced to two years in prison after pleading guilty to his part in the scheme and refusing to testify on the matter.

Prosecutors have claimed that Zigelman’s claim is unsupported by Talmudic law, while his attorneys claim he is being forced to choose between “heaven and earthly jail cells”, the report said.

U.S. District Judge Margaret Morrow presided over the hearing on Wednesday on whether the Hasid should be held in contempt of the court or sent back to prison. The judge said she will rule at an unspecified date after reportedly dismissing the grand jury that was on standby.

The case is a decade-long affair in which Spinka and related charities allegedly solicited tens of millions of dollars in contributions from wealthy donors only to funnel between 80% and 95% back, allowing for tax breaks on the fake donation amounts, the report said.

In 2008, Zigelman pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the government for arranging the donations and coordinating money transfers, the L.A. Times reported.

Zigelman is a 64-year-old Hasid born in communist Hungary to Holocaust survivors. He moved to Brooklyn in the 1970s, the report said, where he eventually became executive assistant to the grand rabbi.

After reading the above, I got curious to see if there were any updates on the story, and sure enough there were. It seems that in March of this year, Rabbi Zigelman went to jail. His attorneys tried to argue that forcing him to testify would violate his First Amendment right to freedom of religion, but thankfully the judge in the case didn’t buy it.

Orthodox Rabbi Ordered Jailed for Refusing to Testify

By L.A. Times

An orthodox rabbi who refused to testify before a federal grand jury, saying his religious beliefs prohibit informing on fellow Jews, was ordered jailed Friday by a District Court judge for contempt of court.

Moshe Zigelman, a 64-year-old Hasidic rabbi, was ordered to report Wednesday to a federal detention center in Brooklyn. Until he chooses to testify, he will remain behind bars up to a maximum of 18 months, according to federal prosecutors

Zigelman has previously pleaded guilty and served a prison sentence for his role in a tax-evasion scheme by his Brooklyn-based orthodox sect, Spinka. After his release, he was subpoenaed to testify before a Los Angeles grand jury continuing its probe into the scheme.

Citing an ancient Jewish principle, Zigelman refused to testify, telling a federal judge forcefully during a contempt hearing through a Yiddish interpreter: “Because the transgression of mesira is so dire, my mind won’t change until I die.”

In December, in an order that was sealed because grand jury matters are confidential, U.S. District Court Judge Margaret M. Morrow held the rabbi in civil contempt.

Zigelman’s attorneys, who have maintained that no amount of earthly sanctions will compel the rabbi to change his steadfast beliefs and that his 1st Amendment right to religious freedom was being violated, appealed unsuccessfully to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The rabbi had asked that he be allowed to enter custody after observing Passover, in April. Prosecutors objected, saying March will mark one year since Zigelman was first called to testify and additional delays will require extensions to the grand jury’s term of service.

Morrow ordered him to surrender to the prison March 21.

“The government doesn’t want to be in a position of remanding somebody into custody, what the government is trying to seek is to have truthful testimony in court proceedings,” Asst. U.S. Atty. Daniel O’Brien said Friday. “All people who are percipient witnesses to facts that are relevant to criminal matters have a duty to testify when called to do so before a grand jury.”

An attorney for the rabbi could not be reached for comment.

Two Sexual Molestation Cases Reopened in Toronto

Two Jewish alleged sexual predators, one a rabbi and the other the former director of a boys choir, have recently been arrested in Toronto. Both cases involve sexual molestation of children, and once again it seems (although the story doesn’t say so specifically) we have the concept of “mesira” coming into play. You’ll note reference to the Toronto “rabbonim” said to have been “very aware” of the allegations yet who provided no information to the police investigation.

Toronto Police Looking for Survivors of Rabbi Heshi Nussbaum and Harvey Erlich

By Vicki Polin

Nearly 10 years ago The Awareness Center sent out notices looking for survivors of both Rabbi Heshi Nussbaum and a dentist named Harvey Erlich, yet never heard anything back.

According to anonymous reports, many of the rabbonim in Toronto were very aware of the allegations made against both men, yet were unwilling to help. All that could be done was to file away the information, in hopes that one day one or more of the survivors of these alleged sexual predators would come forward. Without the survivors statements, there could be no case for law enforcement to investigate.

View slideshow: Rabbi Heshi Nussbaum and Harvey Erlich

Over the last several months, all of this was changing. On August 31, 2012 the Toronto Police Department issued a notice stating that 71-year-old, Rabbi Heshi Nussbaum was arrested on charges of molesting a 12-year-old boy at boy at one of the Eitz Chaim Schools; and at a summer camp in which he was employed. The allegations stem back to January 1972 through December, 1975. Besides working at Eitz Chaim, Nussbaum was also connected to Camp Mogen Avrahom in New York, the Toronto Boys Choir, NCSY in Winnepeg, and Camp Agudah in Toronto.

Often when allegations of sexual abuse hit the news, survivors of the same or other offenders start to realize that they were not the only one who was abused and report the alleged crimes to law enforcement. This is exactly what’s been happening in Toronto.

This past Thursday, the Toronto Police issued a news release informing the public of the arrest of Harvey Erlich, -- who at one time was the choir teacher at Shaarei Shomayim Congregation. Erlich is accused of molesting two boys, ages 11 and 13 between 1975 through 1980. Erlich currently maintains his own dental practice in Toronto.

The survivors in both of these case are very fortunate. Even though these two cases are nearly forty-years-old, in Canada there is no statute of limitations on these types of crimes -- which makes prosecution against these two alleged sexual predators possible.

If you or anyone you know were abused by Rabbi Heshy Nussbaum or Harvey Erlich, you are being asked to contact the Toronto Police Department at 416-808-3200, Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-8477, online at, text TOR and your message to CRIMES (274637), or Leave A Tip on Facebook.

Not only was Erlich at one time a choir teacher at the synagogue mentioned in the story, but apparently, at least if it’s the same Harvey Erlich, he was also at one time the conductor of the Toronto Boys Choir.

And we also have this item from a Toronto TV station:

The Toronto Police Service would like to make the public aware of an investigation into historical sexual assaults between January 1975 and April 1980.

It is alleged that:
- the accused, while working as a choir teacher at Shaarei Shomayim Congregation, at 470 Glencairn Avenue, sexually assaulted a boy who was 11 at the time, while at the synagogue
- a second victim, a boy, 13 at the time, was sexually assault by the accused in a home in the Wilmington Avenue/Sheppard Avenue West area

On Tuesday, November 13, 2012, Harvey Erlich, 58, of Toronto, was arrested and charged with:
1) two counts of Gross Indecency

He appeared in court at 1000 Finch Avenue West on Tuesday, November 13, 2012.

Police believe there may be more victims.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 416-808-3200, Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477), online at, text TOR and your message to CRIMES (274637), or Leave A Tip on Facebook. Download the free Crime Stoppers Mobile App on iTunes, Google Play or Blackberry App World.

Pinto Beans

It has been said before that Jews worship themselves, and the above photo would seem to provide us with a graphic illustration to that adage. The man having his hand kissed is Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto, who in Israel is a rather famous, celebrated rabbi. Businessmen, politicians, and, as you’ll see from the following story, even police officers, all seem to be highly enamored of him.

Top Israeli Rabbi Faces House Arrest, Travel Ban

By Daniel Estrin

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli authorities have placed a multimillionaire celebrity rabbi with a strong American following under house arrest and banned him from traveling abroad as they investigate allegations that he bribed a high-ranking officer for access to his police file, police said Monday.

Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto’s legal saga took a dramatic twist this week: investigators interrogated Pinto for three hours Sunday, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said, but cut short the questioning after news came that Pinto’s wife — also questioned in the affair — had overdosed on pills and was rushed to the hospital. The Israeli media called it an apparent suicide attempt.

Pinto is under 15-day house arrest and a six-month travel ban, Rosenfeld said, but police allowed him to visit his wife in the hospital. He said police are continuing their investigation and would question the rabbi again if necessary.

Pinto is among a group of rabbis who have amassed vast fortunes by becoming spiritual gurus to the top rung of society, attracting many followers among the rich and powerful in Israel, New York, and elsewhere.

He is ranked by the Israeli edition of Forbes Magazine as Israel’s seventh wealthiest rabbi with an estimated net worth of about $19 million.

Israeli media reported the police began tracking Pinto after he approached the head of the investigations department in the Israeli police — who is reportedly an adherent of the rabbi — and allegedly offered him a large sum of money in exchange for access to a separate investigation involving him.

That investigation, Israeli media reports said, concerned an aide to Pinto, a charity executive suspected of embezzling donations and selling food intended for Holocaust survivors.

According to the English-language Jerusalem Post, Pinto’s wife brought the police officer’s wife a suitcase full of cash to deliver to the police officer. Israel Radio reported Pinto had given him $200,000.

Spokesman Rosenfeld would not confirm the details of the media reports, but said Pinto had offered the policeman a “considerably large amount of money.”

Pinto and his wife deny the allegations, Pinto spokesman Amir Dan said. “The rabbi answered all the questions in his investigation,” said Dan. “He is sure that after the facts come to light, the police will understand that the suspicions are completely baseless.”

Dan had no comment on the suicide attempt report, nor on Pinto’s connection to the charity.

A Pinto aide is also under investigation on charges related to illegal congressional campaign financing in New York.

In Israel, the current investigation has sparked concern about the close ties between Israeli police officials and spiritual gurus like Pinto. Top police chiefs are known to be followers of Israel’s wealthiest rabbis, and they frequently appear in uniform at their gala events.

Israel’s daily Haaretz said police were considering banning officers from attending rabbis’ public events while in uniform. Rosenfeld could not verify that report.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg because beneath it hides an intolerable reality,” wrote commentator Nahum Barnea in the Yediot Ahronot daily. “A handful of rabbis, whose disciples attribute to them superhuman qualities, has accumulated tremendous economic and political power in recent years.”

Barnea commended the police official for reporting the suspected bribery attempt, but wrote that “it would not be out of place to ask why the lieutenant commander was seeing Pinto in the first place.”

The Pinto aid under investigation in New York is Ofer Biton, although he is actually more precisely a former aid. I reported on Biton’s case in a previous Rogues’ Gallery. Arrested last month on an immigration fraud charge, he is a friend and fundraiser for New York Congressman Michael Grimm, who is also under investigation for allegedly accepting illegal campaign contributions. Grimm is a former FBI agent as well as a veteran of the first Iraq massacre, carried out in 1991 by George Bush Sr. He is also rabidly pro-Israel. Last year, when House Republicans were pushing for deep cuts in discretionary spending, Grimm wrote a letter to Israel-firster Eric Cantor saying he would oppose any reduction in aid to the Zionist state. Back in September, Huffington Post published an interesting story on the connections between Grimm and Pinto:

NEW YORK -- When he announced his run for congress in the fall of 2009, future U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm, then a political novice, sorely needed a rainmaker who could get the dollars flowing to his nascent campaign. He found one in an Israeli rabbi, Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto.

Now, that fruitful association has turned into a big headache for the Staten Island Republican – one involving allegations of illegal donations, a bizarre blackmail claim and potentially embarrassing associations with people in the pornography business.

The story goes on to detail connections to the porn industry by some of Pinto’s followers, along with the campaign contributions Grimm is alleged to have received from them. Speaking in his defense, Grimm insisted he had no idea he was receiving money from such tainted sources, because, you see, he was relying on Pinto’s “status as a clergyman and holy man” as assurance that all these people giving him money were on the up-and-up. If Grimm is representative of the caliber of people hired by the FBI to work as agents, it’s no wonder the FBI hasn’t figured out who did 9/11.

According to an article here, Pinto is listed as the seventh wealthiest rabbi in Israel. Wikipedia refers to him as a “spiritual leader” who is “regarded by his followers as a Kabbalist,” asserting also that “he is said to be the descendent of rabbinical dynasties that reportedly have the potential to work miracles.” Some have called him the “rabbi to the business stars,” while Israeli politicians who have met with him include Tzipi Livni, whose arrest for war crimes has been twice sought in Britain, and Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman. Another follower is Jay Schottenstein, chairman of the American Eagle Outfitters clothing company.

Well that about does it for this edition of our Weekly Rogues’ Gallery. Hope you’ve enjoyed it. Until next time!

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