Chosen: Crimes and Misdemeanors

By Shmarya Rosenberg

The Weekly Blotter

Wendy Weiner Runge, the ultra-Orthodox filmmaker who accused Iowa prosecutors of antisemitism, entered a last minute guilty plea yesterday. Runge pleaded to one felony count and agreed to testify at future trials of others caught up in Iowa’s film tax credit scandal. (Des Moines Register / WHO TV )

After the plea was accepted, Runge declared victory, sending an email to supports saying the plea proved the other felony charges against her, which were dropped by the estate when she agreed to plead guilty, were false. Runge also said her rabbi had approved the plea deal. (Failed Messiah)

Perhaps the following email Runge wrote to a co-conspirator and which was entered into evidence against her at trial had something to do with her guilty plea: “Hey baby,” Runge wrote to her business partner Matthias Saunders. “I need a final Maximus … invoice TOMORROW MORNING for $2.3 million in an odd, round number,. Add it all up … and make it look pretty.” (Des Moines Register)

In another Midwest development, Untied Mehadrin Kosher, based in St. Paul, Minnesota and run by Chabad Rabbi Asher Zeilingold, was asked to return $2.8 million dollars in the ongoing Agriprocessors bankruptcy. Agriprocessors went into bankruptcy after federal, state and local law enforcement raided the Postville, Iowa plant and arrested 389 undocumented workers in May 2008. The bankruptcy trustee says there are many good priority claims, including workers left unpaid (and, in many cases, destitute, and workers who sought medical care under the company’s health plan only to find that the owners of Agriprocessors, the Rubashkin family of Chabad-Lubavitch hasids, had not paid the health plan’s premiums even though they had taken money from Agriprocessors workers to do so. A number of charities have also been told to return money given by the Rubashkins as Agriprocessors was going into bankruptcy. Bankruptcy laws require trustees to recover both “fraudulent” payments and “preferential payments” to redistribute them to creditors. Fraudulent payments are payments for which the debtor received no value, even if no fraud was intended. Preferential payments fully or mostly reimburse specific creditors during a period of insolvency when the company could not pay all of its creditors – the 90 days before the filing of bankruptcy. (Eastern Iowa Business)

Last week, we noted that a New York State court had ruled against the Rubashkin family’s patriarch, Abraham Aaron Rubashkin. The court was trying to undo a complex scheme through which Rubashkin attempted to hide millions of dollars of his assets. The court noted, among other things, almost $3 million in funds transfers from a Swiss bank. (Failed Messiah)

A group of ultra-Orthodox women protested outside a Brooklyn charity event honoring Henna White, a Chabad-Lubavitch follower who is the Brooklyn DA’s Jewish liaison. The women accused White and Ohel, an ultra-Orthodox family and children’s charity, of covering up cases of child sexual abuse and spousal abuse, and of extorting battered women and abuse victims. (Failed Messiah)

At that protest, a prominent ultra-Orthodox businessman and community activist, Steve Zackheim is seen on video allegedly assaulting the women. Zackheim has a criminal record that includes a convictions for misdemeanor sexual assault and frequent illegal campaign contributions. Zackheim was allegedly barred from owning ambulance companies due to financial misconduct. His wife now ‘owns’ an ambulance company, however, and the DA’s Jewish liaison Henna White arrived at the charity event along with Zackheim and his wife in a paramedic’s vehicle owned by that company. (Failed Messiah)

A group of ultra-Orthodox and Orthodox lawmakers in Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, have proposed a law that would give Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox rabbis immunity for statements or writings based on Torah sources that otherwise would be criminal. The proposed law comes in the wake of an arrest warrant issued for Rabbi Dov Lior, a prominent West Bank rabbi  who endorsed a book that sanctions the intentional murder of non-Jewish enemy civilians – even the intentional murder of ‘enemy’ non-Jewish babies – during wartime. (Ha’aretz)

A Sudanese refugee, Ali Alhira, and his brother were beaten with clubs in Bnei Brak, Israel by a gang of youths wearing skullcaps. Ali Alhira was also repeatedly knifed. From his hospital bed, Alhir said the youths asked where he was from and when he answered, they immediately attacked him. The attack comes in the wake of a campaign led by Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox rabbis to expel African refugees from Bnei Brak and Tel Aviv. (Ynet)

Accused New York City “psycho-slasher” Maksim Gelman missed his arraignment yesterday because he was deemed mentally unfit for court. Gelman, who allegedly murdered four people, comes from a heavily Russian and Russian-Jewish Brooklyn neighborhood. He is being held in a locked prison ward in Bellevue Hospital. (New York Post)

Shmarya Rosenberg publishes His reporting has been cited in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Columbia Journalism Review, Ha’aretz, Jerusalem Post, Forward, JTA, Village Voice and many other publications. He was named to both the Forward 50 and the Heeb 100 in 2008.

What do you think?

2 Responses

  1. Sherman Golbitz

    I didn’tt know if Wendy Weiner Runge was guilty as charged when I saw the “movie” she made in Iowa.
    As far as I was concerned, she should have been put in jail for wasting the money she got from Iowa, to make such a horrible movie.

  2. Goyishe Harold ZT"L

    G-d Bless you, Shmarya. You do so much and get very little (at best) in return.


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