By Shmarya Rosenberg
The Weekly Blotter
Yitty Shteierman, a 44-year-old divorced ultra-Orthodox mother of eight children from Monsey, New York, was sentenced to one year in jail for defrauding an investor out of $19,000. She was previously sentenced in April to one year in jail for defrauding two different people out of $283,000. (Journal News)
Two ultra-Orthodox businessmen who head the Israeli charity Meir Panim, and three other suspects were arrested on suspicion of blackmailing ultra-Orthodox journalist Dudi Zilbershlag. Peretz Hirschenbaum and David Roth allegedly sent an actress to a Jerusalem hotel with Zilbershlag, and then took pictures of the woman giving Zilbershlag a massage, and other intimate photos. (Jerusalem Post)
A “non-practicing” Orthodox rabbi originally from Chicago, Marvin Berkowitz, 64, pleaded guilty to organizing a tax fraud ring that used the stolen identities of dead people and federal inmates. (Chicago Tribune)
Berkowitz has a criminal record that dates back to at least 1988. He made aliya to Israel in 2003 and ran his tax fraud scam from there. (Failed Messiah)
The head of a state-sponsored Orthodox Jewish burial association (in Hebrew, a hevra kadisha) was assassinated in front of his home in what some see as a dispute over scarce burial plots. (Ynet)
An ultra-Orthodox Israeli army soldier – a married father of one – was arrested for weapons theft and armed robbery. The soldier allegedly held up a gas station and a post office, the latter packed with ultra-Orthodox women and children, using a rifle stolen from the IDF. (Ynet)
A hasidic rabbi in Brooklyn, Avrohom Horowitz, says a con man stole $200,000 from him and his synagogue, but the alleged con man, Raymon Bouraad, says Horowitz and his congregation acted like loan sharks and tried to illegally take over his business. The building of Horowitz’s synagogue, Congregation Darkei Chaim of Borough Park, was completed three years ago. The 120 member congregation took $1.6 million in mortgages to build and has already paid those mortgages off. Horowitz lives in the upper floors of the extravagant building. (New York Post)
Eliyahu Ezagui, a Chabad hasid and real estate developer, was sentenced to 33 months in federal prison for mortgage fraud. (New York Daily News)
Even though Ezagui’s victims were fellow Chabad hasids, Chabad rallied behind Ezagui. Even Sholom Rubashkin, the former glatt kosher meat king now serving a 27-year sentence for financial fraud, sent a letter from his prison cell asking Chabad hasids to donate to Ezagui’s legal defense fund. (Failed Messiah)
Rabbi Israel Weingarten, a Satmar hasid, had one count against him tossed by a federal appeals court. Weingarten was convicted of raping his minor daughter and transporting her across international borders for the purpose of sexually molesting her. He was originally sentenced to 30 years in federal prison. But the appeals court ruling, which tossed one count on a technicality, could reduce that sentence to 20 years. (New York Post)
In last week’s blotter, we noted that ultra-Orthodox rabbis had traveled to Virginia to visit Weingarten in federal prison and declared Weingarten innocent. They did so by disregarding the testimony of Weingarten’s daughter, both because she is female and because she is no longer ultra-Orthodox.
Shmarya Rosenberg publishes FailedMessiah.com. 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.