PrivatBank and How Ukranian Oligarchs Buy Up Most of Cleveland and Launder $470B in the Process

How Ukrainian Oligarchs Secretly Became the Largest Real Estate Owners in Downtown Cleveland

Posted By  on Tue, Jun 11, 2019 at 1:22 pm

Three of the Optima Ventures current and former properties: Crowne Plaza Hotel, AECOM Building, One Cleveland Center

  • Three of the Optima Ventures current and former properties: Crowne Plaza Hotel, AECOM Building, One Cleveland Center

“IMG_2485”by jeffpyle is CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

In an explosive legal complaint filed last month in Delaware, attorneys for a major Ukrainian bank alleged that two oligarchs who founded the bank and controlled it from 2006 to 2016 laundered hundreds of millions of dollars in fraudulent corporate loans to purchase assets in the United States and unjustly enrich themselves and their associates.

Dubbed the “Optima Schemes” in the 104-page document, these “brazen fraudulent schemes” were successful, among other things, in making the oligarchs and their co-defendants the largest commercial real estate holders in Cleveland.

(You can read the full complaint here.)

With money siphoned from public bonds and 20 million private Ukrainian citizens who’d opened accounts with PrivatBank, the oligarchs Igor Kolomoisky and Gennadiy Bogolyubov doled out corporate loans to shell companies that they controlled. They used PrivatBank “as their own personal piggy bank,” in the words of the complaint.

Those loans were then laundered in multiple digital transactions, sent through dozens of other shell companies that had been created exclusively for the purpose of laundering. These accounts were managed by co-conspirators at PrivatBank’s branch in Cyprus.

The true origin of the money thus concealed, funds were then shipped to LLCs in Delaware (hence the legal filing there). Those LLCs — “One Cleveland Center, LLC,” to take just one example — were used to acquire properties and metalworking facilities in the U.S. Kolomoisky and Bogolyubov are mineral magnates and own mining factories and metalworking plants in Ukraine.

The men on the ground in the United States, according to the complaint, were a Miami-based trio: Mordechai “Motti” Korf, his brother-in-law Chaim Schochet, and Uriel Laber. These three men managed the “Optima” companies: Optima International, Optima Ventures and Optima Acquisitions, all of which were created and ultimately controlled by Kolomoisky and Bogolyubov.

“Optima Ventures” should be a familiar local name. It was the company, launched in 2007, used to acquire properties in the U.S. for Kolomoisky and Bogolyubov. The majority of these properties were in Cleveland.

Chaim Schochet was Optima’s “front man” in Northeast Ohio. He told the Plain Dealer in 2012that his local goals were twofold: “making money for investors betting on the upside of a Midwestern city, and contributing to the betterment of a downtown that more high-profile buyers ha[d] passed by.”

But his investors’ funds were ill-gotten, according to the complaint, proceeds from “massive, systematic and fraudulent loan misappropriation and recycling schemes. (In the 2012 PD piece referenced above, Schochet was reportedly “circumspect about discussing how [Optima Ventures] is structured or who the major investors are.”)

The loan recycling schemes were functionally identical to a ponzi scheme, except instead of paying purported profits to early investors with funds from more recent investors, the Ukrainian oligarchs and their cronies within PrivatBank paid off early fraudulent corporate loans with money from new fraudulent corporate loans.

“On paper, this appeared to be a repayment,” the complaint explains. “But in reality, it was a sham and fraud, as PrivatBank was repaying itself and increasing its outstanding liabilities in the process. This process was carried out over and over again, over a period of many years.”

In December 2016, the Ukrainian state was forced to nationalize PrivatBank as a result of the oligarchs’ conduct. The state injected more than $5.5 billion into the bank to prevent its collapse, and “preserve the stability of the [Ukrainian] financial system.” In 2018, the bank reverted to private ownership.

The complaint alleges that Korf, Schochet and Laber were in on the racket, aware of the systematic corruption because they were under direct supervision from Kolomoisky and Bogolyubov (or their trusted lieutenant inside PrivatBank, Timur Novikov), and because they were enriched in the process. Korf, Schochet and Laber received “substantial financial remuneration,” according to the complaint, which they used to acquire millions of dollars worth of property in Florida.

Using the laundered loan proceeds, Optima acquired the following Cleveland buildings:

  • One Cleveland Center: 1375 E. 9th St. Acquired for $86.3 million in May, 2008
  • 55 Public Square. Acquired for $34 million in July, 2008.
  • Huntington Building: 925 Euclid Ave. Acquired for $18.5 million in June, 2010.
  • AECOM/Penton Media Building: 1300 E. 9th St. Acquired for $46.5 million in August, 2010
  • Crowne Plaza Building: 777 St. Clair Ave. Acquired in a joint venture with Denver-based Sage Hospitality Group.

Here’s an example of exactly how the properties were acquired, via the complaint:

On April 29 and 30, 2008 … two Ukrainian [metal plants] owned or controlled by [Kolomoisky and Bogolyubov] drew down $2.7 million and $4.3 million in loan proceeds from PrivatBank Ukraine. The purpose of the loans was “financing of current business activities of the entity.” On April 30, 2008, Bocatoro Enterprises Ltd. (“Bocatoro Enterprises”), a Cypriot entity owned or controlled by [Kolomoisky and Bogolyubov] drew down $40 million in loan proceeds from PrivatBank Cyprus for “replenishment of floating assets for payments according to contracts, including purchase of shares.”

However, the loan proceeds were not used for their stated purposes. Instead, the loan proceeds were combined with funds from other sources linked to [Kolomoisky and Bogolyubov] and laundered in forty-two transactions through fifteen Laundering Accounts, including the accounts of Defendant Kolomoisky’s Divot Enterprises, Ralkon Commercial, and Pavanti Enterpirses, as well as Defendant Bogolyubov’s Bonique, and [K&B’s] Blisont Capital and Brotstone accounts.

On information and belief, [K&B] and their co-conspirators used Pavanti Enterprises to misappropriate and transfer a combined $36.1 million into the U.S. to the Multi-State Title Agency Ltd. to fund the acquisition of One Cleveland [Center] through Optima One Cleveland Center LLC for Optima Ventures.

At its height, Optima Ventures controlled 2.8 million square feet of downtown Cleveland commercial real estate. This was a larger footprint than even Forest City Enterprises at the time.

To continue reading click here.
ADDITIONAL READING:

Roman Abramovich and a Record Donation for the Fight Against Antisemitism Worldwide

Roman Abramovich,  the Russian billionaire businessman and owner of the soccer team Chelsea FC.

ROMAN ABRAMOVICH GIVES $5M. TO JEWISH AGENCY FOR FIGHT AGAINST ANTISEMITISM

Russian oligarch and philanthropist Roman Abramovich has given $5m. to the Jewish Agency for Israel to assist in its efforts to combat antisemitism around the world.

Abramovich, who also has Israeli citizenship, gave his donation due to rising antisemitism in Europe, the US, and beyond and will be used by JAFI’s “International Unit,” which engages in various operations and activities to combat antisemitism.

Antisemitic incidents have been on the rise in the UK, France, the rest of  Europe and in the US in recent years, including increasing numbers of violent attacks, which has heightened the need for better monitoring, intelligence and security measures for Jewish communities across the globe.

Abramovich himself has not commented on his gift, but JAFI chairman Isaac Herzog praised him for his financial assistance.

“Jewish communities around the world are coping with record numbers of dangerous, antisemitic attacks. I applaud Roman Abramovich for taking strong initiative to combat antisemitism and am grateful for his contribution to the Jewish Agency’s efforts to ensure Jews are safe in their communities around the world” said Herzog.

To continue reading click here.

 

 

READ ALSO: https://www.thejc.com/news/israel/roman-abramovich-donates-millions-to-the-jewish-agency-in-order-to-combat-antisemitism-worldwide-1.485337

As Brooklyn Rabbi’s House Burns and a Potential Arsonist May Also Be a Victim

To the Community Looking for the Alleged Arson Suspect

We are asking, imploring upon you the readers and the law enforcement community, to please treat the suspect with care, kindness and compassion. If, with emphasis added, he was the victim of some wrongdoing, and that drove him to a breaking point, he has lived a lifetime of trauma.

There is little justification for committing crimes, but there may be mitigating circumstances.

There would be no justice for anyone if he is not given the opportunity to defend any actions he may or may not have taken in the fire as suspected.

LM

Brooklyn Rabbi’s House Burns Down in Suspected Arson, 13 Injured

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

 

The home of a Brooklyn rabbi erupted in fire early Friday in what investigators suspect was an arson attack by a man who accused the rabbi of being a pedophile.

Thirteen people, including a 6-week-old baby, were injured. None of the injuries were life-threatening, although 12 people were sent to the hospital, including nine civilians, two firefighters and an EMS medic.

The blaze erupted in a car outside a home in the Midwood neighborhood and spread to three others, including that of Rabbi Jonathan Max, the New York Daily News reported. 

Investigators are looking into Menachem Karelefsky as a suspect, according to the Daily News. The Pittsburgh resident, who also goes by Matthew, on his LinkedIn profile accused Max, a teacher at the Chaim Berlin Yeshiva, of being a pedophile.

A phone number listed on Karelefsky’s LinkedIn profile leads to a voicemail message in Hebrew that says “May the name and memory of Rabbi Max be erased, simply, really, forever.”

To continue reading click here.

Credit Card Swiping Schemes – The Trade for Points, Is this Points Laundering?

Collecting Points for Charges Without Providing any Services or Items for those Charges

NATURE OF ACTION (Directly From the Complaint)

1. This action arises from certain of the defendants (hereinafter the “Merchant
Defendants”) fraudulent charging of the American Express, Visa, MasterCard and Discover branded credit and charge cards previously issued to the Plaintiffs (hereinafter the “Cards”) by American Express, Chase and certain other defendants (the “Card Issuer Defendants”), which  fraudulent payment card transactions (the “Card Transactions”) were electronically processed by other defendants (the “Card Processor Defendants”). The Merchant Defendants provided no goods, services or anything of value to the Plaintiffs with respect to the Card Transactions. Instead, the  Merchant Defendants fraudulently induced the Plaintiffs to allow the Merchant Defendants to utilize the Plaintiffs’ Cards to ostensibly purchase goods that the Merchant Defendants were planning to re-sell, with the promise that the Merchant Defendants were then going to use the proceeds from the sale of the goods to pay the full amount of the balances due to the Card Issuer Defendants for those Card Transactions prior to the payment due date.

2. The Plaintiffs understood the Card Transactions to be a proper use of their Cards
for the purchase of cash or cash equivalents from the Merchant Defendants, consistent with the  manner that the Merchant Defendants had been utilizing other cardholders’ cards for many years  (which prior transactions had significantly benefited the Card Issuer Defendants and the Card  Processor Defendants, who received substantial revenue in the form of processing fees for the prior
transactions). Indeed, virtually all of the Plaintiffs had previously engaged in virtually identical payment card transactions with the Merchant Defendants, for which previous card transactions the  Merchant Defendants had in fact paid cash or cash equivalents to the Plaintiffs themselves or on  behalf of the Plaintiffs to the Card Issuer Defendants.

3. Despite due demand therefor, the Merchant Defendants have failed and refused to provide the Plaintiffs with cash or cash equivalents for the Card Transactions. The Merchant  Defendants have also failed and refused to provide the Plaintiffs with the goods ostensibly bought for resale by the Merchant Defendants via the Card Transactions. Many of the Plaintiffs were assured by the Merchant Defendants that the use of their Cards for the Card Transactions by the Merchant Defendants were secured by those goods, which would be the property of the Plaintiffs
until resale and could be claimed (and resold for more than the amount of the Transactions) by the  Plaintiffs in the event that the Merchant Defendants failed to timely provide to Plaintiffs the cash or cash equivalents for the Card Transactions.

4. Accordingly, having not received anything of value from the Merchant Defendants  in connection with the Card Transactions, the Plaintiffs attempted to utilize the protections afforded them by and through the payment card networks and to dispute the charges for the Card  Transactions with the Card Issuer Defendants, protections extended to the Plaintiffs through their
agreements with the Card Issuer Defendants. The Plaintiffs expected that this chargeback process  would result in the Merchant Defendants – and/or those who aided or abetted the Merchant defendants’ fraud and/or guaranteed the Merchant Defendants’ compliance with the Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover rules, being held responsible for the Card  Transactions. The Merchant Defendants have instead resisted the Plaintiffs’ attempts to dispute the charges, at times misrepresenting to the payment card networks the nature of the relationship
between the Plaintiffs and the Merchant Defendants and at other times misrepresenting the nature of the Card Transactions. Even when accurate information regarding the Plaintiffs and the Card Transactions have been conveyed to the Card Issuer Defendants, the chargebacks have usually been reversed, and the charges to the Plaintiffs for the Card Transactions have been reinstated on
the Plaintiffs’ account statements for the Cards.

To continue reading the court documents click here.

The Abuse and Neglect of the Elderly in Nursing Facilities – Failure to Report and Failure of Oversight

Health Workers Still Aren’t Alerting Police About Likely Elder Abuse, Reports Find

Posted  by Ina Jaffe

NPR [Excertps reprinted from the original to see the original click here.]

Two reports from the federal government have determined that many cases of abuse or neglect of elderly patients that are severe enough to require medical attention are not being reported to enforcement agencies by nursing homes or health workers — even though such reporting is required by law.

Mary Smyth Getty Images

Two reports from the federal government have determined that many cases of abuse or neglect of elderly patients that are severe enough to require medical attention are not being reported to enforcement agencies by nursing homes or health workers — even though such reporting is required by law.

 

It can be hard to quantify the problem of elder abuse. Experts believe that many cases go unreported. And Wednesday morning, their belief was confirmed by two new government studies.

The research, conducted and published by the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, finds that in many cases of abuse or neglect severe enough to require medical attention, the incidents have not been reported to enforcement agencies, though that’s required by law.

One of the studies focuses solely on the possible abuse of nursing home residents who end up in emergency rooms. The report looks at claims sent to Medicare in 2016for treatment of head injuries, body bruises, bed sores and other diagnoses that might indicate physical abuse, sexual abuse or severe neglect.

Gloria Jarmon, deputy inspector general for audit services, says her team found that nursing homes failed to report nearly 1 in 5 of these potential cases to the state inspection agencies charged with investigating them.

“Some of the cases we saw, a person is treated in an emergency room [and] they’re sent back to the same facility where they were potentially abused and neglected,” Jarmon says.

But the failure to record and follow up onpossible cases of elder abuse is not just the fault of the nursing homes. Jarmon says that in five states where nursing home inspectors did investigate and substantiate cases of abuse, “97% of those had not been reported to local law enforcement as required.”

State inspectors of nursinghomes who participated in the study appeared to be confused about when they were required to refer cases to law enforcement, Jarmon notes. One state agency said that it contacted the police only for what it called “the most seriousabuse cases.”

Elder abuse occurs in many settings — not just nursing homes. The second study looked at Medicare claims for the treatment of potential abuse or neglect of older adults, regardless of where it took place. The data were collected on incidents occurring between January of 2015 and June of 2017.

The federal auditors projected that, of more than 30,000 potential cases, health care providers failed to report nearly a third of the incidents to law enforcement or Adult Protective Services, even though the law requires them to make such reports.

“It’s very important that the first person who notices this potential abuse and neglect reports it, because then they can begin the investigative process to determine if abuse or neglect occurred,” says Jarmon. “And if it’s not reported, it can’t be tracked.”

The HHSreport says that Medicare could do a better job of analyzing the data it has on hand. It recommends that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which oversees the health care program for older Americans, should periodically examine claims for treatment, looking for diagnoses that suggest possible abuse or neglect, as well as where and when those cases occur.

“You have to be able to get the data to see how bad the problem is,” says Jarmon, “so that “everybody who can take action has it.”

However, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which pays for much of the health care for seniors and provides guidance on the reporting required ofhealth care workers and health care facilities, has rejected most of the reports’ recommendations.

To view the article and continue reading click here.

Yeshiva an Mesifta Chaim Berlin – RFI Posted on Tues., 1.30.18 – comments re: Fire in Midwood

The Midwood Fire

[6.13.19]

The following  is being reprinted with the permission of its author.

The intent in reposting  is related to comments made under the Request for Information below and a possible connection to this morning’s fire in Midwood.

We have no way to know if the allegations in the comments section are correct and have therefore done our best to redact unverified allegations or responses to them. We are not posting with intent to harm, defame, injure, slander, hurt, abuse or otherwise; but rather to assist law enforcement in ascertaining what happened. 

If the allegations are correct, we sincerely hope that the victim is handled with extreme care. It is our belief that the Yeshiva community he attended would have reason for him to be permanently unable to tell his story. If he is actually an arsonist, he still may have a story to tell.

If the allegations are deemed incorrect, we will gladly post an apology, correction, redaction or whatever is required and will do so publicly. We do not take matters of this sort lightly.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Yeshiva & Mesifta Chaim Berlin

If there is anyone that would care to share their stories with me dating back some 30-35 years to the present time, please contact me:a_unorthodoxjew@yahoo.com

Your confidentiality is guaranteed!

 

Anonymous said…
What type of stories ?

Fred E. said…
The joint sure looks different from when I was there! Check your E-mail…

sambo said…
samuel boland is who you are looking for. preys on mostly high school boys and beth medrash. been doing it for years. he is not a member of the hanhala. he was kicked out of the dormitory, kicked out of the gym, kicked out of camp morris, but for some reason they honor him with blowing shofar the month of elul. please uoj, put an end to his honor and make his name known to stay away from. he invites boys to his house neaer the yeshiva and offers them to watch ball games, offers them a “shower”. please get rid of him.

Anonymous said…
I was sexually molested by rabbi [REDACTED] the rebbi and dorm counsler

sdff said…
that is bullshit about [REDACTED]. i’ve been in cb for over 40 years, and while sambo is an open secret, there is no way in the world that fruchthandler would keep a [REDACTED] as a dorm supervisor. [REDACTED] never laid a finger on me or any of my pals, but sambo was notorious for shaking hands for uncomfortably long times and not letting go. cb also has a way of ridding themselves of problem rebeim, but [REDACTED] is not one of them. someone obviously has a gripe about how he treated them.

mendel said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matthew Karelefsky said…
I was in an Ohel group home years ago ( I was in foster care too)…..Ohel put me in Yeshiva Chaim Berlin … I became frum in Chaim Berlin and stayed frum for 20 years…I just want to let all frum jews know….The reason why I left Yiddishkite and converted to Christianity is because for years I was sexually molested by [REDACTED] YEMACH SHMO FOREVER in the Yeshhiva Chaim Berlin dormitory …The pain was just too much to handle… Now I am healing in church almost every Sunday….Real sad story…Keep minor children away from [REDACTED]!!
יִמַח שׁמוֹ וְזִכְרוֹ שֶׁל [REDACTED] מַמָשׁ לְעוֹלָם וָעד

Matthew (Menachem) said…
if you want to know more of my story, just CALL me [REDACTED] I do NOT live in silence anymore!!

Anonymous said…
I question your story Menachem… On Facebook, a while back you left a rambling post (which I think you since deleted), about blaming [REDACTED] for messing up your marriage. If I recall in your message you said you liked him till then (not really consistent with him being your molester). I don’t recall the exact gist of the message you posted (several years ago), but I recall something about you saying you will f… your wife up the a… I am sure you remember this gem of a message even if you did actually delete it. It makes me wonder that you are spreading this story and it is not true. If anyone does not believe me about this, please post on the OTD FB group to see if anyone else recalls this message… It was a real gem.

I myself went to Chaim Berlin and while not in the dorm had [REDACTED] as a Rebbi. I would classify myself as atheist so not trying to save the faith here. While in CB while we heard stories such as what went on in Torah Temimah, there was never any indication ever from anyone that this took place in CB. Further, I actually remember you quite well from back in CB and was in Camp Morris same time as you. If I said my name you would know exactly who I am. In any case, while I don’t claim to know the signs of molestation, I would think that as a teen if you were molested by a Rebbi in CB you would have exhibited some sign that something was off. Rather, as far as I can tell, this tirade of yours against [REDACTED] started when your marriage went South… If you recall when you posted on FB, people told you to get some mental health counseling based on what you wrote.

Look, not saying that this did not happen, but based on what I know I am hesitant to believe your story now.

Anonymous said…
Uh, oh… I think police are looking for Karelefsky in connection with the fire this morning in Midwood by [REDACTED] house… Really hope he did not do it… I just tried posting a prior comment… In light of the seriousness of what is going on I would ask that this and that prior comment both do not get posted. At this point the police will be going through his backstory and there is no need to add my speculation to this.

Anonymous said…
I also heard he is connected to that fire. Wishing all those affected a speedy recovery/refuah shleima BezH. This sicko has a tattoo on his arm saying kill [REDACTED]. Very very sad.

Lesmond Peak Nursing and Rehabilitation – 28 Pages Detailing Abuse and Neglect, Ogden, Utah

LesmondPeakNursing

Inspection report details infractions at Ogden nursing home

OGDEN (ABC4 News) – Incidents of elder abuse and neglect are coming to light after two U.S. senators recently released a previously secret list of the 400 worst nursing homes in the United States and one of those facilities is located in Ogden.

Of the 103 nursing homes in the state of Utah, Lomond Peak Nursing and Rehabilitation is the only one to be classified as a Special Focus Facility meaning that inspectors found so many violations here they’re at risk of losing their Medicare certification.

A 28-page report detailing a November 2018 inspection of Lomond Peak details numerous incidents of abuse & neglect. Inspectors found 33 cases of urinary tract infections in female patients and residents fighting over cigarettes.

FULL REPORT: UNCOVERING POOR CARE IN AMERICA’S NURSING HOMES

Utah’s Long Term Care Ombudsman Daniel Musto says his team investigates these types of complaints every day and things can change drastically when facilities have new ownership or management.

“You can have a facility that’s running great a new owner will come along and it goes downhill,” Musto said.

Musto says before you put your loved one into a nursing or assisted living facility, check out the comparisons on https://www.medicare.gov/nursinghomecompare/search.html.

He also recommends visiting the prospective facility at different times of the day, including meal times and meeting with the Resident Council President, who will be aware of all incidents and concerns. He adds that you can’t judge a facility by its appearance.

To continue reading click here.

Deplorable Oversight – Nursing Home Owners Continue to Get Permits Despite History of Poor Care – Louisville, KY

Louisville nursing homes named in federal report for ‘persistent record of poor care’

[EXCERPTS]

Pennsylvania’s U.S. Sens. Pat Toomey, a Republican, and Bob Casey, a Democrat, released the names of nearly 400 nursing homes nationwide with poor safety records that, until Monday, had not been publicly identified.

The Kentucky nursing homes included in the list are:

  • Klondike Center, Louisville

  • Springhurst Health and Rehab, Louisville

  • River Haven Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Paducah

  • Woodcrest Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Elsmere

  • Mountain Manor of Paintsville, Paintsville

  • Twin Rivers Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Owensboro

——————————-

Problems at Louisville nursing homes

Representatives with Klondike Center and Springhurst Health and Rehab did not immediately return requests for comment.

On the federal Nursing Home Compare website, Klondike Center, 3802 Klondike Lane, received a rating of “Much Below Average.”

Among the complaints against Klondike Center detailed in federal reports is a failure by staff in May 2018 to immediately notify a resident’s doctor when needed medication was not available to treat the resident.

The resident “had periods of confusion and an elevated ammonia level during the time when the medication was not administered,” according to the report.

Klondike Center’s failure to have “an effective system in place” to ensure physicians were notified when residents did not receive their medications “has caused or is likely to cause serious injury, harm, impairment or death to a resident,” the report noted.

In August 2018, a resident accused a male staffer at Klondike Center of sexual assault. Investigators determined the facility did not remove the alleged perpetrator from his role to “prevent the potential for further abuse.”

Klondike Center also failed to train staff on abuse prevention after the allegation, according to the report.

The nursing home was hit with a $13,627 fine in November 2018 and a $104,878 fine in October 2017, according to records.

Springhurst Health and Rehab, 3001 N. Hurstbourne Parkway, also received a one-star rating on Medicare.gov and has received numerous complaints in the past few years.

In January, investigators said a medication cart was left unlocked and unattended with two drawers open in the middle of a hallway.

Investigators also described in undated incidents how open food items with no dates or labels and expired food and drinks were found in Springhurst Health and Rehab.

A walk-in freezer had no thermometer and chemicals were stored in areas where food was prepared, according to reports.

Springhurst Health and Rehab has received 23 health citations, according to its Nursing Home Compare page, well above the average of 5.3 citations given to facilities in Kentucky and 7.9 given nationwide.

The nursing home was hit with fines of $250,023 in May 2018 and $88,021 in May 2017, according to the Nursing Home Compare website.

River Haven Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Paducah also was mentioned among cases of nursing home neglect and abuse in the Senate report.

One resident at the facility who suffered from a burn wound and was receiving treatment that included a skin graft did not have their “dressing changed or showers administered as ordered,” according to the report.

State investigators at the Paducah facility found the individual “lying in bed with a large amount of green drainage on (their clothing) and a pool of green drainage on the bed sheets,” the Senate report said.

The resident told investigators they were not sure the last time their clothing had been changed.

“As evidenced by this report, oversight of America’s poorest quality nursing homes falls short of what taxpayers should expect,” the senators concluded.

To read the article in its entirety click here.

Suspicious Brooklyn Fire Hospitalizes 13, and the Twitter Posts and Online Comments of Someone Who May Have Been Hurt by One Home’s Owner…

The fire caused signficant damage. Photo via FDNY

Midwood fires hospitalizes 13, including infant

 

An early morning fire ripped through three homes on East 17th Street in Midwood, sending 13 people to area hospitals.

The fire broke out at approximately 4 a.m. at 1492 E. 17th St., between Avenue N and Avenue O, and spread quickly to the homes on either side. It took approximately three hours for firefighters to bring the fire under control.

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter

FDNY

@FDNY

members operated earlier this morning on scene of a 4-alarm fire at 1492 E 17 St in

See FDNY’s other Tweets

Thirteen people were sent to Maimonides Medical Center and New York Community Hospital as of 10 a.m. for fire-related injuries, a number that’s continued to climb since the blaze was extinguished.

In total, nine civilians — residents of the affected homes and neighbors who suffered smoke inhalation — three firefighters and an EMS lieutenant were injured. One of the civilians is in critical condition.

The three homes each contained three units, according to a preliminary report by the Red Cross, who arrived to provide services to the fire’s victims. A woman and her dog were relocated by the organization. Spokesperson Michael De Vulpillieres said that more may need relocation assistance when they are discharged from the hospital.

To continue reading click here.

Twitter Postings from Someone Who Was Allegedly Abused by One of the Homes’ Owners

Our Theory:

The theory we have regarding this fire is self-explanatory.

We have posted the information we have. We do not know if this young man who posted openly about his experiences on Twitter and in the Comments section to another article are one in the same. We also do not know if he/they had anything to do with the fire; or if others were also allegedly harmed by the owner and if one of them took this action.

If setting the house on fire was the result of someone who was allegedly hurt by the owner then it is a moral imperative that we have some level of compassion both for the victims of the fire and for the arsonist.

Whomever set this fire likely did not know the possible ramifications of setting a fire to one home with the expectation that it would only harm the owners of that home, if indeed, it was set by a victim of some other tragedy.

We believe that law enforcement should be obliged to determine not only the cause of the fire but also if the online allegations are true and accurate. We state, for the record, that we cannot know for certain. It is likely that allegations of this nature were never investigated and if they were, they were likely ignored or swept under the carpet, consistent with the status quo. 

Finally, we must express our deepest sorrow for those who were injured and for those who were harmed and lost their homes.

LM

UPDATED: 12:55PM

PHOTO-2019-06-13-12-51-53 (002)

 

ADDITIONAL ARTICLES:

12 People Hospitalized After Massive Fire Torches Three Houses in Flatbush

POSSIBLE ARSON: Inferno Destroys Three Flatbush Homes, One Of Them Rebbe At Chaim Berlin

The Frankel Family – Taking on Greenwood for the Death of Joseph Frankel “Abuse is Strictly Prohibited”…

Posted: 3:29 PM, Jun 12, 2019

 

Updated: 8:11 PM, Jun 12, 2019

GREENWOOD — A Johnson County family is taking on a senior living community they say abused their elderly father, contributing to his death.

Joseph and Shulamit Frankel shared love and life in good and bad times after nearly 60 years of marriage.

“He was a good man,” Shulamit said. “He loved the children unbelievably.”

PHOTOS | Pics of Joseph & Shulamit Frankel and their family

The couple met in Israel and both served in the Israeli military before moving to America in 1968 where they raised three children.

Joseph, a mechanic in Indiana for most of his life, retired to Florida. But when his health started to decline he moved back to Indiana for care.

READ | List of troubled nursing homes includes 17 in Indiana

Joseph’s family decided the Hearth at Stones Crossing in Greenwood would be the best place for his quality of life.

There were various pieces that we looked at. [Hearth at Stones Crossing was] the one that we looked at that would check on him more frequently than others,” Glenn said. “And you pay a little bit more for that, but it was one of the pieces that we really excited about.”

Joseph only lived at The Hearth at Stone Crossing from March 31, 2016, until he was removed from the facility on May 26, 2016.

He died less than a month later on June 13, 2016.

A pending lawsuit filed in 2018 claims that an employee assaulted Joseph on May 9 or May 10, 2016, which resulted in severe physical, emotional and psychological trauma.

“Listen to everything,” Joseph’s son, Glenn Frankel said. “If something doesn’t sound normal, it probably isn’t. We were told, he told us many times: ‘there’s an issue, there’s an issue.’”

In documents obtained from a state investigation against Hearth at Stone Crossing, the company expressed that abuse or mistreatment of patients is strictly prohibited.

The Hearth and Stone Crossing also completed their own review and concluded that Joseph’s injuries could have been caused by his falling out of bed. The facility did fire two employees for failing to meet performance and patient standards, although they could not definitively conclude that the workers had injured Joseph.

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The Abject Failure of Nursing Homes in US to Report Thousands of Elder Abuse and Neglect Cases – and a Lack of Oversight

U.S. nursing homes failed to report thousands of elder abuse and neglect cases, report

WASHINGTON — Nursing facilities have failed to report thousands of serious cases of potential neglect and abuse of seniors on Medicare even though it’s a federal requirement for them to do so, according to a watchdog report released Wednesday that calls for a new focus on protecting frail patients.

Just 2 of 69 cases checked in five states were reported to local law enforcement

Auditors with the Health and Human Services inspector general’s office drilled down on episodes serious enough that the patient was taken straight from a nursing facility to a hospital emergency room. Scouring Medicare billing records, they estimated that in 2016 about 6,600 cases reflected potential neglect or abuse that was not reported as required. Nearly 6,200 patients were affected.

“Mandatory reporting is not always happening, and beneficiaries deserve to be better protected,” said Gloria Jarmon, head of the inspector general’s audit division.

Overall, unreported cases worked out to 18% of about 37,600 episodes in which a Medicare beneficiary was taken to the emergency room from a nursing facility in circumstances that raised red flags.

Responding to the report, Administrator Seema Verma said the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services does not tolerate abuse and mistreatment and slaps significant fines on nursing homes that fail to report cases.

Verma said the agency, known as CMS, is already moving to improve supervision of nursing homes in critical areas such as abuse and neglect and care for patients with dementia.

CMS officially agreed with the inspector general’s recommendations to ramp up oversight by providing clearer guidance to nursing facilities about what kinds of episodes must be reported, improving training for facility staff, requiring state nursing home inspectors to record and track all potential cases and monitoring cases referred to law enforcement agencies.

Neglect and abuse of elderly patients can be difficult to uncover. Investigators say many cases are not reported because vulnerable older people may be afraid to tell even friends and relatives much less the authorities. In some cases, neglect and abuse can be masked by medical conditions.

The report cited the example of a 65-year-old woman who arrived at the emergency room in critical condition. She was struggling to breathe, suffering from kidney failure and in a state of delirium. The patient turned out to have opioid poisoning, due to an error at the nursing facility. The report said a nurse made a mistake copying doctor’s orders, and the patient was getting much bigger doses of pain medication as a result. The woman was treated and sent back to the same nursing facility. The nurse got remedial training, but the facility did not report what happened. The report called it an example of neglect that should have been reported.

The nursing facilities covered by the report provide skilled nursing and therapy services to Medicare patients recovering from surgeries or hospitalization. Many facilities also play a dual role, combining a rehabilitation wing with long-term care nursing home beds.

Investigators said they faced a challenge scoping out the extent of unreported cases. They couldn’t query a database and get a number, since they were looking for cases that weren’t being reported to state nursing home inspectors.

To get their estimate, auditors put together a list of Medicare billing codes that previous investigations had linked to potential neglect and abuse. Common problems were not on the list. Instead it included red flags such as fractures, head injuries, foreign objects swallowed by patients, gangrene and shock.

The investigators found a total of 37,600 records representing 34,800 patients. Auditors then pulled a sample of cases and asked state inspectors to tell them which ones should have been reported. Based on the expert judgment of state inspectors, federal auditors came up with their estimate of 6,600 unreported cases of potential neglect and abuse.

Investigators found that nursing facility staff and even state inspectors had an unclear and inconsistent understanding of reporting requirements.

Medicare did not challenge the estimates but instead said that billing data comes with a built-in time lag and may not be useful for spotting problems in real time.

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The Allure of Displacing Nursing Home Patients for Big Development and the Alluring Strategy Behind It

Former Nursing Home in Bed Stuy Is Being Razed for Controversial New Development

by Craig Hubert

2

Space is being cleared for a large new development—almost an entire block long—in Bed Stuy.

Located at 270 Nostrand Avenue, it fronts Nostrand, Dekalb, and Koscuiszko Street. The property was the former home of CABS Nursing Home Company, which was established in 1973. Beginning in 2009, the facility began operating at a loss, according to the owner in a court filing, and began to look for a buyer who would keep the nursing home open.

270 nostrand avenue

City records show that NNRC Properties LLC, which is part of the Allure group, bought the property from CABS for $15.6 million in June 2015.

270 nostrand

270 nostrand

But their plans, unbeknownst to CABS, included building apartments on the property. In October 2015, they filed permits for a seven-story development, which was approved later that same year. Current renderings show a plain facade, one side colored white and the other a lighter shade of brown.

270 nostrand

CABS sued the developer in 2016, claiming “they lied about plans to keep the home operational and instead moved patients out with the intention of turning the building into apartments,” according to a story in DNAinfo. They sought to rescind the sale while asking for “more than $30 million in damages.” In 2017, the fraud claims were dismissed.

Allure Group is also behind the controversial Rivington House nursing home sale in Manhattan, where they were accused of similar actions.

Related Stories

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10th Yeshiva Closed in NY for Vaccine Order Violation – The Measles Epidemic and the Blatant Disregard for Safety

New York City closes 10th Jewish school for violating vaccine order

NEW YORK (JTA) — New York City is shuttering an Orthodox school in Brooklyn because it has continued to admit unvaccinated students in violation of a city order.

The Central UTA Satmar School for Boys, a Hasidic school in the Williamsburg neighborhood, will be closed Tuesday afternoon for violating the stipulations regarding vaccines and vaccination records, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency has learned. It is the 10th Orthodox school in New York City to be closed this year due to the issue, according to a city official with knowledge of the matter.

Williamsburg, which has a large Orthodox population, has been experiencing a measles outbreak since last year that has infected 588 people in New York City. Almost three quarters of those cases have occurred in Williamsburg. The city says the outbreak is largely concentrated in the Orthodox community.

In April, the city declared a public health emergency over the outbreak, mandating people in four Williamsburg Zip codes to vaccinate. The city also announced it would be closing schools in Williamsburg that allow unvaccinated students to attend. Nine of the 10 schools closed thus far are in Williamsburg. The 10th is in the borough of Queens.

In addition, in the past week, the city has issued summonses to 173 people for not complying with the public health emergency order, 68 of whom ended up receiving vaccines or providing proof of immunization.

Orthodox authorities have urged their communities to vaccinate, and advocates of the communities claim that Orthodox vaccination rates in Brooklyn are high.

But according to data shared by the New York City Department of Health, as of the beginning of 2018, only 67 percent of Williamsburg children ages 19 to 35 months had their first dose of the measles vaccine, as opposed to a citywide average of 88 percent. More recent data was not available.

According to data from the State Department of Education, more than 20 Orthodox schools in Brooklyn had immunization rates lower than 90 percent last year. Experts recommend an immunization rate of at least 95 percent.

Rockland County in New York, home to the heavily Orthodox city of Monsey, also has had a significant number of measles cases. Only about 77 percent of the county is vaccinated, according to state data.

In the case of the Satmar school, the city official said, school officials failed to meet deadlines to provide the city with students’ immunization records. When those records were received, investigations showed that the school was still admitting students and faculty who were not vaccinated.

The school has not responded to a JTA request for comment. But a parent at the school told JTA that the issue lies with influential families in the community who do not vaccinate their children and continue to send them to the school, even though the school has asked them not to attend. In general, the parent said, the school encourages vaccination.

“The school endorses it, and they warn everyone to vaccinate, but then there’s people in power that don’t, and then, there’s where the problem comes in,” the parent said. “You have people in power, for example, somebody who gives a lot of money for the yeshiva, or he’s a big rabbi, and his son doesn’t vaccinate… You can send them home for one day, for two days, but, you know, then he’s going to come back… You can’t dismiss him for all.”

The school is not being given advance notice that it is being closed so that school administrators will not falsify documents ahead of time.

To continue reading click here.

The Fight for a Democratic State Not a Tyrannical Theocracy In Israel – Un-Covering up!

A screenshot from a video capturing waitresses flashing their bras. Washington Post

Jerusalem waitresses flash their bras at ultra-Orthodox Jews protesting desecration of the Sabbath

JERUSALEM – Bastet, a vegan and LGBT-friendly cafe whose blue tables spill across a central Jerusalem sidewalk, is a secular oasis for residents seeking Saturday refreshment in a city that largely comes to a standstill for the Jewish Sabbath.

But each week, a procession of ultra-Orthodox men, some in their finest fur hats and gold robes, invariably marches past in a show of displeasure at the cafe’s desecration of the day of rest. “Shabbos!” they chant, using the Yiddish word for the Sabbath.

On a recent Saturday, the wait staff struck back, lifting their shirts to reveal their bras in an attempt to push back the religiously conservative demonstrators.

The confrontation reflected a central tension in modern Israel over the very nature of the state, founded by secular Zionists but with an ultrareligious population that is growing in size and influence.

That tension came to the forefront late last month, thwarting longtime Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s efforts to form a new government and sending a stunned nation to the polls for the second time this year. Netanyahu needed two competing factions, secular and religious, to form a governing majority in parliament, and they were deadlocked over legislation that proposes drafting the ultra-Orthodox into the military as other Israeli Jews are.

The ultrareligious parties oppose conscription as an attempt to assimilate their cloistered communities by thrusting their young men into contact with secular life and values.

But Avigdor Liberman, Israel’s ultranationalist former defence minister, has made resistance to ultra-Orthodox influence an essential part of his appeal to his political base of secular Russian-speaking immigrants. Those close to him say the conscription issue is part of his wider concern about a minority community that receives state welfare payments and tax breaks while contributing less than other Israeli taxpayers.

It is a victory

Mira Ibrahim, one of the staff who disrobed

The ultra-Orthodox, a catchall for a religious community that includes a wide range of sects, choose largely to segregate themselves from the wider Israeli society to lead a life in which religious observance is paramount. Outside influences, such as films, the Internet and mixing with secular Israelis is discouraged, if not forbidden.

But in Israel’s fragmented parliamentary democracy, the political parties representing the ultra-Orthodox have become kingmakers in recent years, elevating their agenda and carving a fault line in Israeli society that is expected to grow.

For Israelis like Klil Lifshitz, the 28-year-old lesbian who opened Bastet 2 1/2 years ago with a “super feminist” wait staff rather than decamp to liberal Tel Aviv as most of her friends had, the shrinking space for secularism is a concern.

“They have more and more power,” she said of the ultra-Orthodox. “As long as they keep having the power they do in forming coalitions and governments, they are basically going to get what they want.”

It was during an usually large demonstration last month, called by ultra-Orthodox Jews to protest what they termed Israel’s desecration of the Sabbath as the country hosted the Eurovision song contest, that the wait staff decided to make their own stand. They said the purpose was to protect their tables and make an ideological point.

Since then the ultra-Orthodox have paused their weekly walk past.

“It is a victory,” said Mira Ibrahim, one of the staff who decided to disrobe, though she said the sense of triumph was tinged by a heavy-handed police response to the demonstrators that made the staff uncomfortable.

To continue reading click here.

 

Mark Zirkind – And the “Shoah Gelt” Laundering of Drug Money – 4 Years, Ontario Canada

COURT OF APPEAL FOR ONTARIO

CITATION: R. v. Zirkind, 2019 ONCA 401
DATE: 20190516
DOCKET: C63942

Hourigan, Paciocco, and Harvison Young JJ.A.

BETWEEN

Her Majesty the Queen

Respondent

and
Mark Zirkind

Appellant

Edward Prutschi, for the appellant

Jennifer Conroy and Kerry Benzakein, for the respondent
Heard: May 7, 2019

On appeal from the convictions entered on January 16, 2017 by Justice Todd
Ducharme of the Superior Court of Justice and from the sentence imposed on June
29, 2017.

 

[27] However, upon a review of the transcripts of proceedings, it is clear that the
trial judge was alive to the potential dangers associated with this evidence. The
trial judge not only expressed scepticism as to the import of this evidence during
the trial Crown’s closing submissions, but also said to defence counsel “I don’t
need […] to hear about that” when defence counsel started reply submissions on

Page: 12

the appellant’s travel history, and told defence counsel not to “worry about” trial
Crown’s submissions on the credit card transactions.

[28] In light of the submissions at trial, and the back and forth between counsel
and the trial judge, we are satisfied that the trial judge did not base his finding of
guilt on legally controversial inferences.
The Sentence Appeal

[29] We also disagree that the 4 year custodial sentence imposed was manifestly
unfit. We see no error of fact or error in principle that would justify appellate
intervention in this case.

[30] The appellant argues the trial judge erred in rejecting the appellant was a
mere courier which, had this submission be accepted below, would have been a
mitigating factor. We disagree. The trial judge’s finding that the appellant was not
a mere courier was amply supported by the record.

[31] Contrary to the appellant’s submission on appeal, the record also strongly
supports the trial judge’s finding that the appellant was motivated by profit and was
aware that he was transporting money obtained from drug tracking.
[32] The trial judge identified and applied the principles set out in R v. Rosenfeld,
2009 ONCA 307, 94 O.R. (2d) 641. He noted that the primary sentencing
objectives were deterrence and denunciation. He considered the relevant

Page: 13

similarities and differences between Rosenfeld and the case at bar. Again, we see
no error in principle that could justify intervention with the sentence imposed.
Disposition

[33] The appeal from conviction is dismissed. Leave to appeal sentence is
allowed but the appeal from sentence is dismissed.

“C.W. Hourigan J.A.”
“David M. Paciocco J.A.”
“A Harvison Young J.A.”

The Depraved Indifference in Nursing Care – The Ashmedai – The Owners Who Choose Profit Over Care – Part I

The word “Ashmedai” it is said is used to refer to the King of the demons – all that is evil. “The author of the Ra’aya Meheimna in the Zohar (3:253a) distinguishes between three types of demons: (1) those similar to angels; (2) those resembling humans and called shedim Yehuda’im (“Jewish devils”) who submit to the Torah; (3) those who have no fear of God and are like animals.” [https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/demons-and-demonology]

nursing fraud

[EDITORIAL – IN HONOR OF SHAVUOT AND THE ELDERLY AROUND THE COUNTRY WHO NEED OUR HELP] (updated 6.10.19) (updated 6.11.19)

Nursing Home Scandals in the US – A Special Duty Should be Required in Nursing Care and a Special Class of Punishments Established for Those Who Abuse

Nursing home care is a profitable business. There are “nursing home” moguls chomping at the bit to get hold of another for his or her portfolio. There are those owners/managers with their names on dozens of homes. There are straw-men who act as placeholders so the majority owners don’t need to report. It is a racket.

While the US government is supposed to restrict owners with repeated complaints from acquiring additional homes, those who are serially neglectful of rules and care, it doesn’t. Websites are not up-to-date. Nursing facility conglomerates just change ownership stakes, re-brand their product and start again with a new name and no oversight. Or, they put a straw-man in place, someone who is seemingly the owner, but in reality, is not.  The entire system is a breeding ground for greed, indifference, dereliction of duty, fraud and neglect. When it comes to the care of the elderly and patients requiring rehabilitation, the families don’t complain because they are vulnerable, they need help and most don’t know to whom to turn. The result is a pattern of victimization, victimizing patients, families and even healthcare providers.

And, Medicaid and Medicare do nothing to stop the fraud that drains their coffers. And the industry itself couldn’t give a tinker’s damn about the injury that patients sustain as a result of profit over care.

Fraud, abuse and neglect is rampant. Look no further than recent news article, some of which we have listed below. Bad actors would rather file suit for defamation than deal with the problems. Denial works wonders, particularly if it is played out in court by those with deep pockets against those with fewer financial resources. 

As an example and one that we were alerted to a few months back, a patient in a nursing facility is charged for services he or she did not receive and should have. The first crime is charging for those services not provided.  It is a fraud perpetrated on the patient and upon the healthcare system as a whole. We all suffer for it. The second crime is not providing the services at all. That second crime is worse than the first, insofar as it reflects an indifference to the health and well being of the person entitled to that service. The third crime is that of those who are supposed to be overseeing the system. No one bothers to contact patients to ask if they are receiving care. All are guilty, no one is accountable and everyone suffers.

Another scenario so common it borders on unfathomable, a specialized nursing facility is habitually short-staffed and lacks sufficient specialized skilled nursing to recognize if a patient has a bladder infection, for example. The patient sits in pain, urinates uncontrollably and is often forced to sit for hours in his or her own urine. The lack of skilled nursing is a dereliction of the requirements of a skilled nursing facility. It is also a form of neglect and if the nursing facility is billing on those services, it is also a fraud. The pain faced by the patient is a form of abuse and sitting in one’s own urine is inhumane, at best, and utterly criminal at worst – cruel and unusual punishment.

These types of nursing facilities are rated under a system proposed by the government, one that is supposed to provide guidance to families. And yet it is an abject failure. There is no oversight. The money is lost from the system and basically handed to the nursing facilities to help owners and managers line their pockets, and line them they do. 

Another example, closer to home, an incapacitated stroke patient lies on his or her back for 10-12 hours at a time unless periodically moved, which requires assistance. Alternatively, the patient will and does develop bedsores. The nursing facility is short staffed and does not have the manpower required to watch over patients requiring this level of care. If that patient’s position is not changed regularly those bedsores can ulcerate, can get infected, can cause sepsis. They are painful, excruciating and thousands of patients in beds in nursing and rehabilitation facilities throughout the United States suffer because the personnel required to make sure these virtually immobile patients are getting their care costs money and requires compassion. The nursing and rehabilitation facilities do not want to hire additional nursing or support staff. It costs money taken from their exquisitely padded pockets. And compassion is sorely lacking, non-existent and when the scales are weighted between money and compassion, compassion is not a tipping point.

What is not emphasized in an overall analysis of our healthcare system is that hiring someone to constantly change a patient’s position is less expensive to the entire system then the cost of paying for sepsis. But in the ultimately financial analysis, the nursing and rehabilitation facilities do not get rewarded when they help patients to leave. They get rewarded when beds are filled, even if they are filed with patients who might be healthy enough to go home. In fact, the application for new homes requires that potential owners have a plan for keeping their nursing facility full. The system is utterly broken. Nursing home owners profit from money that comes from lengthened and prolonged stays within their facility. There is absolutely no motivation to help people. There IS MOTIVATION TO KEEP THEM SUFFERING.

Looking to the codes used for billing, sepsis can be charged to by a hospital or facility for treatment purposes. In other words, it is a “billable event.” Moving a patient to help prevent bedsores cannot be billed. The former is profitable and the latter is not. Owners of these nursing homes are not incentivized to keep patients comfortable and healthy, improve their quality of life. That requires “compassionate care” and few nursing homes have the moral and ethical wherewithal to even make that a consideration in their ownership and management of their facilities.  Simply put, they do not want to spend the money, they want the profit and the system feeds into fraud and abuse.

The Jewish community can claim ownership of a significant percentage of beds in the greater US nursing home arena [www.briuswatch.org] . This is a fact. Most large nursing and rehabilitation groups are Jewish run and Jewish owned [https://data.medicare.gov/widgets/y2hd-n93e]. How are we not shaming our own into treating the elderly with respect, dignity and a quality of care that reflects a level of humanity, compassionate and empathy commensurate with a decent Jewish soul? A level of care that reflects and overall basis in human dignity? How are we allowing our fellow Jews to utterly demoralize the elderly for personal gain?

The ultra-Orthodox, fighting for better conditions in jails were able to raise millions in a 72 hour period.  However, they look the other way when their friends and neighbors, their fellow synagogue members, wealthy nursing home owners defraud the system and abuse patients. Why is fighting for better healthcare oversight not as important, if not more so, then prison reform? The criminal element gets more attention than the elderly, those who spent years looking after us and are then neglected.

In reality, in most cases the inmates in US prisons are treated better than the elderly in US nursing and rehabilitation facilities. Perhaps when people get old and start to get sick, they should commit crimes. The reality in the US is that they would receive better care growing old, spending their golden years behind bars then they do subjected to nursing home treatment.

There are some crimes that many of us, those with a heart, compassion, empathy and a modicum of humanity find to be absolutely unthinkable. Among them is the rape of a child, the slaughter of people as they daven in synagogue or pray in other houses of worship and the blowing up of buildings by suicide as prime examples. There are so many others. Sources tell us that sexual predators and rapists have the worst reputations going into jails and prisons and are treated accordingly. Why are those who abuse the elderly not equally as worthy of our collective revulsion?

When we hear about crimes committed in Nursing/Physical Rehabilitation homes, why are we not equally as transfixed by the sheer weight of the depravity of the crime? How is the population not so moved as to lose sleep over what is happening to our elderly in nursing care? How can substandard care in nursing facilities be ignored? Have we as a society just accepted, with some form of cognitive dissonance, that this is simply the state of affairs? And don’t the members of the Jewish community who trade regularly in the nursing home business owe their patient class some level of humanity?

Federal and state websites, which are supposed to update the quality of nursing and rehabilitation facilities are not updated regularly, though they profess to be.[https://nursinghomereport.org/ownername-joseph-schwartz/ ] There is often little follow-up on complaints of neglect, abuse and fraud. The “grading system” is inconsistent throughout the different US states and is subjective. And, it is not uncommon to find repeat offenders given license to continue to purchase additional homes to add to their portfolio of nursing homes. It is both pathetic and almost laughable.

[https://data.medicare.gov/widgets/y2hd-n93e]

How can we as a civilized society accept this outcome? How can we be looking the other way? How can social workers in hospitals around the country be sending patients from their hospitals to substandard conditions in nursing and rehabilitation facilities? What is the duty of care of these social workers? And what obligation does the US healthcare, Medicare and Medicaid systems have to protect those within our society who are being harmed by nothing more than depraved indifference.

 

ADDITIONAL READING:

Whether Worth Less or Worthless, Quality of Care Issues Under the FCA are Worth Noting

WHERE IS THE OVERSIGHT?

SICK, DYING AND RAPED IN AMERICA’S NURSING HOMES

How N.Y.’s Biggest For-Profit Nursing Home Group Flourishes Despite a Record of Patient Harm

Nursing home care: A growing crisis for an aging America

Questions Remain About Pennsylvania’s Vetting of Skyline Healthcare

Elder Abuse in Residential Long-Term Care Settings: What Is Known and What Information Is Needed?

Esformes will appeal convictions on 20 charges in $1.3 billion healthcare fraud case

Nursing Homes Held by Skyline Owner Face Crisis, Bouncing Paychecks in Mass.

Ex-independent living home employee found guilty of elder abuse

It’s a scheme’: Nursing homes owe thousands to Fall River pharmacy

Federal Way woman must repay state in workers’ comp scam

Nursing Home Abuse Statistics

The statistics reflecting incidents of abuse involving elderly residents in nursing homes and care facilities are both staggering and disheartening. At the broadest level, more than two (2) million cases of elder abuse are reported every year, and almost one (1) out of every ten (10) elderly individuals will experience some form of elder abuse. Moreover, virtually all parties working closely with the elderly on topics such as nursing home abuse have noted that the overwhelming majority of abuse incidents remain unreported. Sadly, while those figures reflect a national epidemic of violating the vulnerable, but also, most likely grossly understate the problem of elder abuse in the United States.

 

 

 

“Religion ought to be a beautiful thing, not a political thing” – Israel and the Religious Hurting Judaism

[OPINION] – By David Suissa/JNS.org – reprinted in part without explicit permission

Israel’s Religious Parties Hurt Judaism

On the surface, the fact that Israel is headed back to an election only weeks after the last one looks like a system failure. It’s never happened before in Israel. The Israeli government will now have spent the bulk of a year in election mode rather than governing mode. There’s something wrong with this picture.

And yet, if we look at the reason for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s failure to cobble together a coalition — one party’s refusal to kowtow to religious parties — this “do-over” election presents a unique opportunity for a political upgrade.

Israel’s religious parties crave political power because it enables them to fulfill their religious agenda, from refusing to enlist in the IDF to forcing Torah laws on the public. Over the years, because Netanyahu has desperately needed their seats to form a majority coalition, he has tolerated their demands.

He probably figured the same thing would happen this time around — but one man stopped him. Avigdor Lieberman, chairman of the right-wing secularist Yisrael Beiteinu party, decided he had had enough and refused to compromise on a bill to draft haredi(ultra-Orthodox) Jews into the IDF.

JUNE 7, 2019 11:08 AM
0

 

Normally, Netanyahu is able to pull things together at the last minute, because Knesset members are loath to jeopardize their positions by going to new elections. In this case, it didn’t work. The religious parties threw a few bones of compromise, but Lieberman held firm, sticking to the original draft bill.

This dispute is rooted in the founding of the Jewish state, when Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion made the fateful decision to exempt ultra-Orthodox men (only a few hundred at the time) from enlisting in the IDF. A well-known modern Orthodox rabbi in Israel once told me that this decision did more to turn off secular Jews to religion than anything else.

This makes sense. If you’re an Israeli parent whose children are risking their lives to defend the state, why should ultra-Orthodox citizens be exempt? And if you see ultra-Orthodox leaders fighting to keep their community out of the army, how would that make you feel about religion in general?

There are countless other ways that political power in the hands of ultra-Orthodox parties has become corrosive.

 

To continue reading click here.

Erskin Felix Sentenced in Murder of Stark, Maintains His Innocence

OPINION – LM

Erskin Felix Claims he is Innocent and We Think He May Very Have Been Wrongly Convicted

Erskin Felix has maintained his innocence since day one. He said he did not kill Stark. He had the opportunity to plea a deal which he did not take, knowing that were he to be convicted, he would not get off lightly. He has continuously stated that he would not have killed Stark.

We have believed, all along. There were more than a fair share of people who had to gain by Stark’s tragic death.  Menachem Stark was involved with business and real estate partners for whom his death was a payday with a windfall outcome. Many of Stark’s properties have wound up in the hands of those very partners who have since sold them onward and made substantially lucrative deals.

There are things about the case that never made sense. The Van did not initially show signs of Stark or DNA. It was not captured on all of the videos that should have captured it had events been as depicted. A second pass over the van lead to finding DNA; and while the inconsistencies with the evidence have resulted in a partial conviction on evidence tampering, we don’t believe any of it. If the evidence was tampered with, it was not by Felix.

It took hours before the police were called in. Instead, the Shomrim were initially called and they reviewed everything first. The lack of transparency within Shomrim as a general matter leads one to question the actions they took after the initial determination that Stark was missing.

We received information that shortly after his death there were changes to LLC boxes at 199 Lee Avenue, where many of Stark’s properties were registered and where many of his property managers had “suites” (more accurately PO Boxes) including new addresses for some of these managers and companies.

We received information from Stark’s tenants who claimed that there were some very shady dealings; many included coercing them to  to sign documents that they later realized dismantled their rights to their homes, just days after the disappearance but before it was widely known the circumstances of Stark’s death or even that Stark was indeed dead. 

Moreover, while there was supposedly a kidnapping for ransom behind the Stark murder, no official information has ever been disseminated regarding the nature of the ransom except an alleged $20,000 payment. However, Felix had always claimed that this was not true. Why would three men from St. Lucia be involved in anything like this for $20,000? It just makes no sense.

We speculate that the other two “conspirators” were paid handsomely to accept a deal, spend time in prison and come out to find some form of compensation for their troubles waiting. It gives us a few years to figure it all out.

In the meantime, we wish our condolences to the Stark family. The death was tragic and unnecessary and right or wrong in our theories, he should not have died for money or for any other reason. 

We sincerely hope there are others out there who see this as we do. Erskin Felix is, in our opinion, innocent. We hope someone, if not us, manages to figure it all out.

Erskin Felix Sentenced to 24 Years to Life for Murder and Kidnapping of Menachem Stark

BROOKLYN

Erskin Felix, convicted of the murder and kidnapping of Menachem Stark, was sentenced Thursday to 24 years to life in prison. Five years and five months after Stark’s death, all four men accused of involvement in the crime have now been convicted or pleaded guilty, and sentenced.

In a victim impact statement prior to the sentencing, Mrs. Bashie Stark described the pain her family has experienced since her husband’s death.

“It was Erskin Felix who planned and executed this cruel attack, and it is he who’s responsible for the trauma that my family is suffering to this day and will suffer for the rest of our lives,” said Mrs. Stark, who remained composed throughout the statement. “With the murder of this sweet and gentle man, my loss is huge and my children too are going through life missing that love and security that their devoted father had always provided.”

“Menachem and I always imagined growing old together and watching our children reach adulthood. But in the years that have passed, two of my children got married and Menachem wasn’t there with us. Two grandchildren were born, and Menachem never got to meet them. To hold them. To bounce them on his knee. They will never know his love. My little ones barely remember their father, the man that loved them more than life itself.”

Stark was kidnapped by two men on the night of January 2, 2014, outside his Williamsburg office, and forced into the men’s minivan, in a scene captured on surveillance footage. His body was found in Long Island the next day.

A jury deliberated for less than five hours before convicting Felix, 40, in April, of second-degree murder, first degree kidnapping and tampering with physical evidence. He was acquitted of another first-degree kidnapping charge and a conspiracy charge.

Felix is believed to have masterminded a plan to kidnap Stark and hold him for ransom, claiming Stark owed him money. Felix managed construction sites on properties owned by Stark, a real-estate developer. Stark was friendly with Felix, according to testimony by Mrs. Stark, and had also hired Felix to do contracting work on his home some years earlier.

According to testimony by Erskin’s cousin Kendel Felix, Erskin and Kendel carried out the kidnapping, then drove to the home of Erskin’s brother Kendall Felix and picked him up, and then picked up another cousin, Irvine Henry. The plan went awry when the group suddenly realized that Menachem was no longer breathing; Erskin had unintentionally suffocated Menachem, who was already bound and gagged, when he had kneeled on Menachem’s chest.

Erskin and Irvine left the vehicle and returned to the area of Menachem’s office – likely to retrieve a tracking device Erskin had placed under Menachem’s vehicle weeks earlier – but, fearing being seen, went home. Meanwhile, Kendall and Kendel drove the minivan with Menachem’s body to Long Island, where they put him in a dumpster and burned him.

Kendel was convicted in September 2016 of felony murder and kidnapping. The other three were arrested shortly thereafter, and Kendel then reached a deal to cooperate with against Erskin for a reduced sentence.

Kendel was sentenced in May to the minimum of 15 years to life.

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ADDITIONAL READING:

Man convicted in kidnapping, murder of Menachem Stark gets 15 years

‘Mastermind’ of 2014 kidnapping and murder sentenced to 24 years to life in prison

 

 

Chabad Lubavitch and Drug Money – Cash for Jews Fearing Holocaust -“Shoah Gelt”

The Recent Connection Between Drug Money and the Chabad-Lubavitch

Dear Readers:

For the past couple of years we have been given reports by insiders from within the Lubavitch community that the organization is receiving at least some portion of its funding from drug money. In other words, from couriers who are involved in the drug trade. We have never been provided any real details and have not wanted to address these contentions as a result.

The following article would lead one to believe that the reports we have received may not be far from the truth. Obviously, however, this is speculation. We leave you to your own devices in reading and interpreting the article from the Toronto Sun. We find the whole thing, in light of the reports we have received and some recent articles, somewhat perplexing.

LM

 

MANDEL: Drug money courier claimed cash was for Jews fearing Holocaust

You have to give him credit for a novel — if unsuccessful — defence.

Mark Zirkind isn’t your regular sort of criminal — he’s an ultra Orthodox Jew of the Hasidic Lubavitch movement, someone you’d expect to see in a yeshiva, and not under arrest after police seized $1,136,555 from his rental car.

On Feb. 23, 2014, Zirkind flew from Montreal to Toronto on a one-way ticket and rented a car. Police watched him meet up with a drug trafficking suspect they had under surveillance in the Yorkdale mall parking lot and receive a red-and-white duffle bag.

Later that night, as Zirkind was travelling east along Hwy. 401 back toward Montreal, he was stopped by the OPP for speeding. Following a search of his car, he was arrested for possession of property obtained by crime.

Police found over $1 million in cash in a number of bags, including $250,170 in the red-and-white duffle. The bags, the money, and several surfaces in the car, including the glove compartment, driver’s control surfaces, back seat and trunk, tested positive for cocaine.

According to the agreed statement of facts, the money in the Yorkdale duffle bag did come from cocaine trafficking. But Zirkind insisted he didn’t know at the time that he was transporting proceeds of crime.

Here’s where the novel defence comes in: He claimed he was a courier of “Shoah Gelt” — Shoah is the Hebrew word for the Holocaust and gelt is the Yiddish term for money. At his trial, Zirkind testified that he’d been approached by a stranger named “Avrum Reish” to move money to safekeeping in Montreal for Jews in Europe or Asia worried about a second Holocaust.

He told the court he was honoured to do so, “describing the task as a great ‘mitzvah’ or commandment from God.”

Zirkind testified that he drove the money from Toronto to Montreal on three or four prior occasions and never flew because he feared the cash would be discovered or lost. He said the people who handed over the money didn’t appear to be Jewish while those who received it in Montreal seemed to be orthodox Jews.

There were a number of reasons to be skeptical about his fanciful story.

The agreed statement of facts said Zirkind’s average declared annual income was $34,912. But between 2009 and February 2014, he’d made over $2 million in payments to his various credit cards.

Under cross-examination, Zirkind admitted he’d never asked how the money he was transporting came into Canada or where it ended up. He also claimed not to have a way of contacting Avrum and hadn’t heard from him since his arrest.

Superior Court Justice Todd Ducharme didn’t believe a word of it.

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Lubavitcher Chassidic Dr. Conversion Therapy Lawsuit – Is He Treating to Heal or Shaming Into Trauma- The Nature of His Practice and Religion

 

Lubavitcher Chassid Sues New York Over Conversion Therapy Ban

In a society where privacy is at a premium, unpopular views are shouted down in public venues, and the most personal facts of people’s lives are casually revealed on social media, the therapist’s office has been one of the last bastions of safe speech. Psychotherapy patients can converse with their chosen counselors without fear of exposure, shaming, or outside interference.

That has been changing, and a recent New York City law currently being challenged in federal court goes further than ever in dictating the parameters of private therapy sessions. The unsubtly titled “Counseling Censorship Law” prohibits mental health counselors from helping individuals with homosexual feelings or gender identity issues work to overcome them.

Unlike so-called “conversion therapy” bans in other jurisdictions – to date, 18 states and more than 50 cities and counties have enacted them – New York’s law applies not only to minors but to patients of all ages. It also carries stiff financial penalties for practitioners.

One of those practitioners, Brooklyn psychotherapist Dr. Dovid Schwartz, an Orthodox Jew and a member of the Crown Heights Lubavitch community, has filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, alleging that the law violates his and his patients’ rights to free speech and free exercise of religion under the First Amendment. The plaintiff also assails the law’s vagueness in failing to define subjective terms like “identity exploration and development” and “change,” which makes him vulnerable to prosecution.

The city’s ban, says Roger Brooks, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) which is litigating the action, “intrudes into the privacy of a counselor’s office to censor an entirely voluntary and very personal conversation between an adult and the counselor or psychotherapist he has chosen.”

The lawsuit – like the plaintiff, his patients, and the therapy they pursue – is animated by principles of faith, specifically Torah laws and values. “[T]his case is not just about whether a menorah can go up in a public square,” says lead local counsel Barry Black, of Nelson Madden Black LLP, who is working together with ADF. “It involves the essence and core of religious practice.”

Virtually all of Schwartz’s patients are Orthodox, including many fellow Chabad adherents. A small subset of them seek his help, either initially or in the course of ongoing psychotherapeutic treatment, to deal with unwanted feelings of “same-sex attraction.” (That is the term of choice favored by Schwartz and many in the religious world, revealing a far less rigid view of human sexuality than the terminology used by the defendant and the culture at large.)

In his affidavit, Schwartz asserts that he “does not attempt to increase opposite-sex attraction or change same-sex attraction in patients who do not desire his assistance in that direction,” and “never promises that these goals will be achieved.” He further notes that some of his patients have succeeded in reducing or eliminating their unwanted attractions, while some have not or have chosen not to continue the process.

Moreover, the lawsuit stresses that the plaintiff’s counseling sessions with his patients consist solely of talking and no other interventions. This is significant because reports from New York City’s Commission on Civil Rights relied on by the City Council and cited by the defendant refer repeatedly to the fact that conversion therapy, known by its critics as SOCE (sexual orientation change efforts), has in the past been associated with electro-shock treatment, castration, and other painful practices designed to dissociate individuals from their impulses. One of the key questions the court must decide is whether talk therapy alone is a form of speech – and thus constitutionally protected – or commercial conduct, which is subject to regulation.

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Handler Should be Defrocked – Measles and The Vaccine Conspiracy, The Gospels According to Luke and the Nazi Ties to Medicine –

I attended an Orthodox anti-vaccine rally. Here’s what I saw.

NEW YORK (JTA) — The weirdest part of an Orthodox anti-vaccine conference here was probably when the emcee, a rabbi wearing a black hat and white beard, quoted the Gospel of Luke.

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!” he cried, reciting the Gospels nearly verbatim.

Rabbi Hillel Handler wasn’t referring to the 200 people gathered in the basement of a haredi Orthodox wedding hall in Brooklyn to hear about the alleged dangers of vaccines. Rather, he was talking about the doctors, rabbis and politicians who he says are all hoodwinked by a massive conspiracy orchestrated by drug companies and the Centers for Disease Control to make money off of vaccines.

While the scientific consensus supports vaccination and regards it as a historic boon to public health, the crowd, like the emcee, do not put much stock in that science. Handler and the other speakers charged the CDC and its purported stooges with hiding the dangers of vaccines and destroying evidence that they are harmful. They cited no credible evidence.

“This is all being orchestrated by the drug companies, which are very close to the CDC,” Handler told the crowd in a gender-segregated room at a catering hall in the Midwood neighborhood. “The doctors all march in lockstep with the CDC. The doctors don’t think they’re marching in lockstep. They don’t understand that the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia, is a totally corrupt swamp. … They are criminals.”

The rally comes amid an ongoing measles outbreak sparked by low vaccination rates, particularly in the Orthodox community. According to the CDC, there have been 981 confirmed cases of measles in the United States this year. In New York City, according to the city’s Department of Health, there have been 566 confirmed measles cases since September, the highest totals since 1992. The city says most of the cases have involved members of the Orthodox Jewish community.

The city required immunization in heavily Orthodox Brooklyn neighborhoods earlier this year. Large Orthodox organizations have encouraged their communities to vaccinate.

“[C]ountless rabbinical figures and leaders, including leading rabbis in the Agudath Israel movement and doctors serving these communities, have repeatedly encouraged vaccination in the strongest possible terms,” reads an April statement by Agudath Israel of America, a leading haredi group. “Indeed, the overwhelming majority of children enrolled in Jewish schools are vaccinated.”

But there are some vocal holdouts.

At the rally held late Tuesday night, organized by an anti-vaccine group calling itself the United Jewish Community Council, speakers cast doubt on established medical opinion and the CDC. The crowd, which appeared to be mostly but not entirely haredi, was receptive to the message and applauded.

One attendee told another that large pharmaceutical companies like Bayer and Merck, which now produce vaccines, had collaborated with Nazi Germany. (Bayer was a division of a larger company that did collaborate with the Nazis, though now it is under different ownership. Merck, originally connected to a German company of the same name, split off into an independent American firm in 1917, before the Nazis came to power.)

“If you had bought a mutual fund in the ’30s, back in Nazi Germany, you would have done phenomenally,” the attendee remarked.

After Handler, speakers included Dr. Daniel Neides, a former vice chairman of the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute who resigned last year after writing a column questioning vaccines. (He later apologized, saying he “fully supports vaccination” and was trying to open a conversation about their safety, not question their use.)

But the bulk of the program was led by Del Bigtree, a Hollywood producer without medical qualifications who styles himself as an expert on vaccines. He directed the documentary “Vaxxed: From Cover-Up To Catastrophe.” Last month Bigtree spoke to a similar rally in Monsey, New York, also the home of a large haredi community.

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Anna Barkovski, who came out Tuesday night in an attempt to change the minds of anti-vaxxers. (Gwynne Hogan / Gothamist / WNYC)

Ultra-Orthodox attendees of an anti-vaccination event in Borough Park on Tuesday night were confronted by members of their own community who hoped to dissuade them from attending—or convince them to reconsider their choice not to vaccinate.

Midwood resident Ben Rivlin got to the event, at the Ateres Chaya Hall, early so he could tape up his handmade sign reading “VACCINATION IS IMPORTANT! STOP THE PROPAGANDA AND LIES!!!”

“I want to send the message that Orthodox people do care about vaccines and health,” he said. Security guards soon made him remove the fliers.

“I’m not gonna get anybody to not go in,” Rivlin said. “But there should at least be noise that people are against this.”

Gwynne Hogan@GwynneFitz

Here’s the one pro-vax protesters.

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Anti-vaccination activists with a group calling itself “United Jewish Community Council” were hosting the vaccine symposium at a catering hall. The event featured regulars on the anti-vaccination circuit including Del Bigtree, who hosts an anti-vaccination Youtube channel. Bigtree headlined a similar gathering in Monsey last month and later attended a rally in Albany against the removal of religious exemptions to vaccines.

“I think it’s absurd to say I’ve had any impact on this community whatsoever and their decision whether or not to vaccinate,” Bigtree said, speaking to reporters before entering the venue Tuesday night. He went on describe a rise in autoimmune diseases and neurological disorders that he said, coincides with an increase in required vaccines.

“When you look at that coterminous event, what we’re seeing is the greatest decline in public health in human history and therefore I think we have got to question the medical establishment,” Bigtree said.

Vaccination advocate Anna Barkovski came armed with a stack of with pamphlets written by a group of Orthodox nurses debunking some of the highly cited anti-vaccination propaganda that’s targeted their community.

“I think everybody’s responsible for their health choices but I want people’s choices to be based on science and on facts, not on some propaganda or fear mongering of [the] Pharma industry,” she said.

As the current measles outbreak has spread for more than seven months now, vaccination has become a lightning rod within the tight-knit ultra-Orthodox community; all but a handful of people who were sickened did not identify as Orthodox Jewish.

The vast majority of ultra-Orthodox NYC residents immunize their children, much the same as the general population. But a small but organized subset of the community, who have ties to the national anti-vaccination movement, have been organizing and spreading their anti-vaccination message through hotlines, conference calls, pamphlets and on the encrypted messaging service WhatsApp.

New York City Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot took to Twitter to call out the event, writing, “To hold an anti-vaccination rally in the middle of an outbreak is beyond irresponsible, it is downright dangerous.”

Word about Tuesday’s event had spread through WhatsApp groups, word of mouth, flyers stuck to telephone poles and through recorded messages blasted from car speakers around Borough Park.

Other polemic speakers slated to address the crowd included Rabbi Hillel Handler, who in a speech at the recent anti-vaccine symposium in Monsey blamed “illegals,” for spreading disease, and said the focus on measles was a distraction crafted by Mayor Bill de Blasio, whom he called a “sneaky, sneaky fellow,” citing his German heritage.

Rabbi Handler’s messages that the city was targeting Jews instead of other groups seemed to have permeated at least some of the audience members. Heshy Friedman showed up to the event with his own signs that read “Why does the mayor not close down the gay movement that is spreading deadly AIDS but shut down yeshivas for measles that is not deadly?”

“We believe the mayor is harassing the Jewish community because he’s trying to shut our private Jewish schools for just measles…and yet he’s not gonna stop the gays from having their clubs and their parades,” Friedman said, drawing a false, homophobic connection between vaccinations, the AIDS virus, and the gay community.

 

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Substantial Equivalency in New York for Yeshiva Students – Naftuli Moster YAFFED [podcast]

CAPITOL PRESSROOM

June 4, 2019: Non-public school guidelines

The fight for substantial equivalency for non-public schools made its way to the Board of Regents meeting in Albany this week. Naftuli Moster, Executive Director of Young Advocates for Fair Education, discussed what he hopes to see the State do next to ensure substantial equivalency.

Judge Elena Baron – The Unencumbered Candidate – Surrogate’s Court in Brooklyn

Judge Elena Baron, Running For Surrogate’s Court

Judge Elena Baron, running for Surrogate’s Court in Brooklyn, has garnered a reputation among members of the Jewish community, of genuinely caring about matters that affect it, such as closures of yeshivas and synagogues, handling matters before her with sensitivity and compassion.

“I make sure that every case, no matter how big or small, gets the same attention and care and that expected work gets done properly,” she told The Jewish Press. “I enjoy my work that consists of helping people resolve their problems that bring them to court.”

Baron has worked in five New York City courthouses for over a decade, handling guardianship proceedings, fiduciary appointments, receiverships, refereeships, credit card debt, small business corporate matters, personal injury matters, labor law disputes, landlord-tenant issues, and residential and commercial property cases, including foreclosures, as well as small claims.

“Judge Baron’s independence and her well-diversified experience working in New York City courts for over a decade will make her a very effective surrogate, able to create personalized solutions to many individual family situations that come before the Surrogate’s Court,” said Yana Feldman, an attorney who practices before the Surrogate’s Court.

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Did Netanyahu Agree to Gender Segregation in Public – Selling his Soul to the Ultra-Orthodox Minority

PM agreed to ultra-Orthodox demand for gender-segregation in public — report

Netanyahu reportedly agreed to an ultra-Orthodox demand for gender segregation in public places during the coalition negotiations last month, the Kan public broadcaster reports.

According to the report, Netanyahu sought to soften the demand in his talks with his would-be coalition members, but ultimately agreed to the condition laid out by Shas, United Torah Judaism, and the Union of Right Wing parties.

The Likud denies the report, telling Kan that no such agreement was made.

From the Times of Israel

Anger Over Ultra-Orthodox Freeloading and Power of Minority “Kingmakers” Could Destroy Israel

It’s Thursday night at the Mahane Yehuda market in west Jerusalem, where the music is thumping and the drinks are flowing. When a bottle breaks, the crowds erupt with a chorus of “mazel tov”, or congratulations.

But as some ultra-Orthodox Jewish men in traditional black suits, side locks, and thick skullcaps pass by, Ad Shamsi’s face sours. “What do they have to do here?” asks the 56-year-old Jewish Israeli, who is kicking off the weekend at an outside bar.

This is a glimpse of the intra-religious tension that in part led Israel’s parliament last week to dissolve itself and hold a fresh election – just seven weeks after the last one – following a deadlock between two rightwing factions at odds over a proposal to draft the ultra-Orthodox into Israel’s military.

Since Israel’s founding, the ultra-Orthodox – also called the Haredim – have been exempted from military service, which is mandatory for all Jewish Israeli school leavers. The various ultra-Orthodox sects see it as a religious commandment to only study Jewish texts and separate themselves from modern society. They consequently receive government subsidies to study rather than work, along with general social services and benefits relating to unemployment, poverty and their large numbers of children.

Today the ultra-Orthodox, an umbrella term for different sects and communities, are 10% of Israel’s population of more than 8.5 million – and are growing fast.

They have strategically cultivated a role as kingmakers in Israeli politics, making or breaking coalitions based on which politicians best support their interests.

The military symbolises the antithesis of traditional ultra-Orthodox principles. It represents time away from studying, a mixing of genders against religious prohibitions and a vast melting pot in which young people are taught to be a certain kind of Israeli. For average Jewish Israelis, to be a good citizen is to serve in the military. (Palestinian citizens of Israel, who make up 20% of the population, are exempt from service because of the ongoing conflict.)

Shamsi is an avid supporter of Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister, and his rightwing, national religious policies. He wears a kippa, or Jewish head covering, thinks shops should close on the Sabbath in keeping with strict Jewish law, and supports Israel’s presence in the occupied Palestinian Territories. He lives in Ramot, an increasingly ultra-Orthodox neighbourhood on the outskirts of Jerusalem considered an illegal settlement under international law.

He has no patience with the ultra-Orthodox Jews who do not serve in the military yet receive subsidies from the government, all while not actually studying — in his mind epitomised by the young Haredi men coming to check out the secular bar scene on a Thursday night. “Why do I need to do three years [in the military] and him not?” Shamsi asks. “Why do I need to pay for everything and not them?”

A few minutes’ walk from the bars of Mahane Yehuda is Mea She’arim, historically the most intense ultra-Orthodox neighbourhood in Jerusalem. Here, men dress in various styles of black hats and suits, depending on their sect, and walk fast, so as not to appear to be wasting time away from studying. Plastered on walls along narrow streets are posters listing deaths and other notices – a key source of information for communities that shun the internet.

A sign near a bustling supermarket informs passers-by: “It is forbidden to participate in elections.”

Some ultra-Orthodox sects do not recognise the state of Israel, saying the Bible prescribes that it can only come into existence with the coming of the Messiah. For others, there is a more pointed boycott of elections now in protest over what they see as the Haredi parties’ failure to be hardline enough on the issue of conscription.

 

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The Ultra-Orthodox Free-Loaders in Israel Posing Existential Threat to Israel and to Jews

Black Elk’s “Rigged” Bond Vote – Orchestrated by Mark Nordlicht and David Levy, the Details

Ex-Black Elk Atty Gives ‘Painful’ Detail On Bond Vote

Law360 (May 31, 2019, 9:44 PM EDT) — A former attorney for defunct energy firm Black Elk walked jurors through a bond vote that the government alleges former executives at Platinum Partners rigged in their favor, with the prosecutor on the case getting into a level of detail that a judge called “painful” on Friday.

Former Black Elk outside counsel W. Robert Shearer gave a second day of direct testimony at the trial where Platinum co-founder Mark Nordlicht and former Platinum co-chief investment officer David Levy are accused of working with others to secretly control the bulk of $150 million in Black Elk bonds ahead of a vote in order to direct millions back to Platinum itself.

Now a partner at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, Shearer was at the time at BakerHostetler. While jurors had heard of Nordlicht’s involvement the day before, Friday’s direct testimony was centered mostly on email interactions between Shearer, former Platinum managing director Daniel Small and former Black Elk CEO Jeffrey Shulse. Shulse and Small are scheduled to be tried separately on related charges. The government has not accused Shearer of wrongdoing.

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NYS Ed Department Framed Vaccination as a First Amendment Right – Whose Rights are at Stake?

State Education Department ordered Jewish school to accept unvaccinated kids

Amid a record-setting nationwide measles outbreak driven largely by New York cases, the state ordered a Long Island school to accept unvaccinated kids into its classes and after-school activities.

The Shulamith School for Girls in Cedarhurst says the state Education Department was wrong to twice overturn the school’s decision to bar Ilana and Nikolay Jinjihashvili’s two daughters after the parents sought a religious exemption to the vaccination rule.

The Jewish day school is now asking a federal judge to overturn Education Commissioner Mary­Ellen Elia’s orders, calling them “illegal, void and unenforceable.”

While the current measles outbreak has put the vaccination debate at the forefront of public health, the school is framing the dispute as a First Amendment fight.

“There are schools that have taken the position that under the school’s religious belief, as a matter of Jewish law, students should be vaccinated,” the school’s lawyer, Philip Kalban, told The Post. The parents may have a different and “sincere” belief about vaccinations, Kalban explained, “but they say it’s based on Jewish law, and our position is that Jewish law says just the opposite.”

The First Amendment comes into play because the school argues the state has no business interfering in a religious matter.

The case landed in Brooklyn federal court last week after the family sought to send their girls to an ­after-school art show and fundraiser but were blocked by the school.

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Black Elk and the “Secret Sway” of Mark Nordlicht and David Levy to Wield Control – a Power Grab

Law360, New York (May 30, 2019, 9:59 PM EDT) — Jurors in the securities fraud trial of former top Platinum Partners executives on Thursday heard of how co-founder Mark Nordlicht floated plans to wield control over bonds of the hedge fund’s portfolio company Black Elk Offshore Operations LLC using Platinum affiliates, which prosecutors say was part of a scheme to defraud the oil and gas driller’s bondholders.

Prosecutors say Nordlicht, former Platinum co-chief investment officer David Levy and others used their secret sway over the majority of $150 million in Black Elk bonds to funnel the bulk of proceeds from a sale of the company’s assets back to Platinum, ahead of bondholders who had priority to the funds.

During the testimony of Black Elk’s former outside counsel at BakerHostetler, W. Robert Shearer, the jury heard of how a group of independent bondholders in late 2013 were threatening to push the bonds into default after Black Elk violated the indenture’s terms by exceeding its limits on capital expenditures.

Jurors were shown a February 2014 email from Nordlicht to a Black Elk executive, in which Nordlicht describes a plan to potentially deal with aggrieved bondholders by exerting majority control over the debt.

“FYI — I am close to buying 20 million bonds from [an independent bondholder]. It will at that point be [an] easy task to buy additional 25 if bondholders don’t behave and we can change covenants at any time by flipping our bonds to friendlies who will do right by the company,” Nordlicht said in the email.

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The US Nursing Home Travesty of Justice, Financial Fraud, Patient Abuse, Government Neglect and Liability and the Profiteers who Profit From it all

The Rosewood Care Center in Inverness, Ill., was backed by a program run by the Department of Housing and Urban Development that insures loans to more than 2,300 nursing homes across the country. CreditCreditDanielle Scruggs for The New York Times

$146 Million Default by Nursing Home Chain Leaves U.S. on the Hook

The cracks in the foundation of a Chicago nursing-home business began to appear almost immediately.

The owners stopped making mortgage payments on their crown jewel, the Rosewood Care Centers, barely a year after buying it in 2013. Paperwork about the chain’s finances was never filed with the government. Some money meant for the 13 nursing homes and assisted-living facilities went to prop up another investment.

In the end, the business defaulted last year on $146 million in government-backed mortgages — the biggest collapse in the history of a little-known loan-guarantee program run by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The Rosewood debacle demonstrates the problems plaguing the HUD program, which helps nursing homes obtain affordable loans and has become a linchpin of the American elder-care system.

By the government’s own admission, the federal agency’s stewardship of the program has been haphazard. Its oversight of nursing homes has been weak. When HUD officials have spotted problems, they often have been slow to respond. Sometimes it has taken years to intervene, allowing the finances at certain facilities to unravel to such an extent that the quality of care was undermined.

HUD officials described Rosewood as an outlier, saying that only 1 percent of the guaranteed loans end up defaulting. “Mortgage defaults in this program are exceedingly rare, yet reaching an acceptable resolution requires an owner’s willingness and ability to work on behalf of their residents,” the department said in a statement.

But the program — run by a department better known for fostering affordable housing — is a vulnerability for the federal agency. The nursing home industry is increasingly being run by for-profit operators facing dwindling margins. Some homes — especially those in rural areas — are struggling to stay open, with operators blaming low occupancy and insufficient payments from Medicaid and Medicare.

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Yeshiva Education and Substantial Equivalency – Why not Meet Requirements or Forego Funding?

State education chief unveils retooled ‘substantial equivalency’ rules for private schools

Nancy Cutler, Rockland/Westchester Journal NewsPublished 3:33 p.m. ET May 31, 2019

State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia speaks with The Journal News Staff in White Plains March 18, 2019. Carucha L. Meuse, cmeuse@lohud.com

The New York State Education Department announced proposed regulations Friday for academic instruction at nonpublic schools, less than two months after its guidelines with similar goals were blocked by the State Supreme Court.

The issue focuses on enforcing state law requiring that secular studies at private schools — like math science, English and history — be “substantially equivalent” to what’s taught in public schools. Concern has been most focused on certain ultra-Orthodox and Hasidic Jewish yeshivas that advocates have reported fail to meet the law or prepare their students for employment and a solid economic future.

State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia initially issued new guidelines in November that were meant to update previously issued regulations for enforcing the law. But the court ruled in April that the Education Department failed to follow its own procedure for such specific changes.

The Education Department is classifying the effort as a change to regulations, not just guidelines. The path to new regulations includes a public comment period — lacking in the original process.

“Nonpublic schools are an important part of the educational landscape in New York State,” Elia said in a statement. “With the regulations, we will ensure that all students — no matter which school they attend — have the benefit of receiving the education state law says they must have. By following the State Administrative Procedure Act process, we are addressing the Court’s concerns.”

Some advocates had been pushing the state to adopt emergency regulations to enforce the “substantial equivalency” law, rather than launching a lengthier process. Naftuli Moster, the founder and executive director of Young Advocates for Fair Education, or YAFFED, said in a statement that the state was playing into the hands of groups that resist oversight of yeshivas.

“Instead of acting quickly to implement emergency regulations, NYSED has chosen a lengthy process which all but guarantees that in the 2019-2020 school year, tens of thousands of children will continue to be denied the education to which they are entitled by law,” the New City resident said.

Yeshiva education activist Naftuli Moster, who has been the topic of a lot of criticism and praise for his work with YAFFED, a nonprofit that’s pushing the state to ensure secular education is provided in yeshivas, discussed his work outside Rockland County Court House June 12, 2018 in New City. (Photo: Tania Savayan/The Journal News)

Also at issue is the state’s plan to allow inspections by the public school district to take place by the end of the 2022-2023 academic year. “That’s like saying ‘when you get around to it, but no rush,’ ” YAFFED responded.

The education equivalency issue mostly impacts New York City and the East Ramapo school district, which has scores of yeshivas in their boundaries.

Rockland Legislator Aron Wieder, D-Spring Valley, has been a strong critic of such oversight. Wieder, who is Hasidic, represents parts of Spring Valley. He has asserted that Elia “has bought into the narrative that is being peddled by people who have left the Orthodox community and only have hatred towards our community.”

The issue has caused much attention in New York politics. In 2018, the state budget was nearly derailed when Sen. Simcha Felder, D-Brooklyn, demanded language be inserted into the budget that would influence the way the state considered curriculum at certain yeshivas.

The proposed regulations more specifically spell out the ability for a private school to challenge the enforcement process in an effort to include “due process.” The guidelines also allow “for integrated curriculum that delivers content by incorporating more than one subject into the content of a course.”

The proposed regulations drop references to state learning standards; rather, the guidance language will focus on instruction in subject areas required by law.

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Black Elk and the Bond Proceeds – Another Platinum Bait-and-Switch

Law360, New York (May 30, 2019, 9:59 PM EDT) — Jurors in the securities fraud trial of former top Platinum Partners executives on Thursday heard of how co-founder Mark Nordlicht floated plans to wield control over bonds of the hedge fund’s portfolio company Black Elk Offshore Operations LLC using Platinum affiliates, which prosecutors say was part of a scheme to defraud the oil and gas driller’s bondholders.

Prosecutors say Nordlicht, former Platinum co-chief investment officer David Levy and others used their secret sway over the majority of $150 million in Black Elk bonds to funnel the bulk of proceeds from a sale of the company’s assets back to Platinum, ahead of bondholders who had priority to the funds.

During the testimony of Black Elk’s former outside counsel at BakerHostetler, W. Robert Shearer, the jury heard of how a group of independent bondholders in late 2013 were threatening to push the bonds into default after Black Elk violated the indenture’s terms by exceeding its limits on capital expenditures.

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Yeshivas and No Secular Studies, the Tragedy for Jews and Democracy

The Forward - News that Matters to American Jews

Originally published in The Forward.

Susan Lerner and Esther Fuchs

May 29, 2019

Yeshivas Aren’t Teaching Secular Studies. It’s A Shonda For The Jews And Democracy.

Over generations, no matter their religious practice, Jews have shared a commitment to educating their children. In New York, the government has set the standards for that education and taken the legal responsibility to ensure that every child in every school, whether public, private or religious, receives an education that meets those standards. And yet, we find ourselves in an extraordinary situation, where rabbis in some of our most vulnerable communities have chosen to deny children the secular education they are entitled to and relegate them to a life of poverty and dependency. It is even more disheartening that our elected officials have chosen to be complicit in this disgrace.

For decades, yeshivas have received millions — if not hundreds of millions — of tax dollars from New York State lawmakers for transportation, security, lunch, textbooks, and even academic intervention services. Some yeshivas cover as much as two-thirds of their budget with public funds

Yet, we have little to no accountability for that money, even as certain Ultra-Orthodox leaders openly flout state law which requires all nonpublic schools to provide an education that is “at least substantially equivalent” to public schools. That’s because lawmakers have historically prioritized politically powerful voting blocks ahead of student wellbeing, and they’re doing it on our dime.

The fact is we have no idea if these schools are even in compliance with state educational requirements to teach secular studies, but we have reason to suspect that they’re not. According to a report commissioned by Young Advocates for Fair Education (YAFFED) in 2017, Hasidic boys receive only 90 minute or less of secular instruction a day in elementary school, and none in high school. This leaves them unable to read and write in English, perform basic math, or understand the science behind vaccines.

It’s an ongoing crisis, but despite recent efforts by the New York State Education Department (NYSED) to implement very basic oversight, these Ultra-Orthodox leaders are fighting to keep our children in the dark ages. Pilpul and gematria are simply not a substitute for writing a clear English sentence and understanding basic math concepts.

 

To continue reading the article in the Forward click here.

Katz Raking in Developer Dollars for DA Race, To Whom Will She be Beholden? Think Before You Vote!

This story was originally published on May 30, 2019 at 4:30am by THE CITY

QUEENS DISTRICT ATTORNEY HOPEFUL MELINDA KATZ RAKES IN DEVELOPER DOLLARS

Photo: Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz is doubling down on developer dollars in the crowded race to become district attorney.

Katz’s donors include a who’s who of the city’s multi-billion dollar real estate industry, making up roughly 29% of all the money she received between mid-January and late May, the latest campaign finance filings with the state Board of Elections show.

She raised $560,000 during the four-month filing period — about $158,300 of which came from people, companies and organizations in the real estate industry, according to THE CITY’s analysis of campaign finance disclosure documents filed by the committee KATZ NYS.

Of the nearly $318,000 Katz raised from individuals, at least $126,000, or 40%, was contributed by developers and people in the real estate industry.

She’s bucking a growing trend of local politicians — among them Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams — who say they won’t accept developer dollars.

Katz’s platform includes a pledge to assign an investigator to every workplace accident that results in serious injury. She told THE CITY last month she would “absolutely” prosecute developers who are at fault in construction fatalities or injuries, and not just contractors implicated.

Grant Fox, a Katz campaign spokesperson, said

A Packed Field

With the June 25 Democratic primary looming, the borough president is the fundraising frontrunner in the seven-way race to replace the late Richard Brown.

Katz’s largest cumulative donation came from the family behind Two Trees Management, whose founder, David Walentas, and his wife each donated $6,250, in addition to the $6,250 donated by his son, Jed. That was followed by a $15,000 contribution by real estate developer Daniel Tishman of Tishman Realty & Construction.

Her campaign was also buoyed by donations from developers and construction companies that do business in the borough she’d have jurisdiction over if she becomes the next DA.

Katz received $12,500 from two people associated with Jackson Heights-based Nash Builders, which constructed an eight-story building in Elmhurst, and $11,250 from individuals tied to The Mattone Group, a College Point-based developer.

Two political committees tied to the Rent Stabilization Association, which represents 25,000 property owners and agents, donated $10,000 to Katz. The political arm of the Real Estate Board of New York, an influential trade group, gave her $2,500.

Party Establishment Chips in

Katz also got a boost from former Rep. Joe Crowley, who stepped down as the head of the Queens Democratic Party in February after his stunning defeat by Ocasio-Cortez.

Joe For New York, the state campaign committee created by the former Queens political boss, donated a combined $3,050 to Katz’s campaign. Keith Wright, the head of the Manhattan Democratic political machine, gave $250.

In Brooklyn, Democratic district leader Steve Cohn — who’s known for his annual political cheesecake breakfast gatherings — donated $1,000 through his state campaign committee.

Crowley’s loss to an insurgent candidate with little money and name recognition in 2018 set off a chain reaction in Queens and elsewhere in the state and nation, emboldening grassroots candidates with little funding to take on the establishment.

Katz, who’s received the backing of the new Queens boss Rep. Gregory Meeks, counts  Tiffany Cabán among her rivals. The public defender’s insurgent campaign for district attorney recently notched the support of Ocasio-Cortez.

As THE CITY reported Tuesday, most of the contributions to Cabán’s grassroots campaign have come from contributors outside of the borough. And two campaign staffers made dozens of donations as small as $5.

Overall, Cabán raised $256,000 in the latest filings. Rounding out the fundraising field are former judge Gregory Lasak (nearly $445,000); former Civilian Complaint Review Board director Mina Malik ($397,000); City Councilmember Rory Lancman ($246,000); Jose Nieves ($70,000) and Betty Lugo ($57,000).

“This story was originally published by THE CITY, an independent, nonprofit news organization dedicated to hard-hitting reporting that serves the people of New York.”

Platinum Partners – Nordlicht, Levy and SanFilippo and A Crime So Complicated No One Understands it

IMG_8796

If Mark Nordlicht, David Levy and Joseph SanFilippo are Acquitted, it will not be Because no Fraud was Committed but Because the Whole Story was Too Confusing, Even for Defense Attorney Baez

Jose Baez is representing Mark Nordlicht in Nordlicht’s fraud trial. Baez is a remarkable and seasoned attorney. He knows the law. He knows his jury. He tests the boundaries of his questions with a bright smile; and he knows how to defend his client with the sheer will of his conviction.  As defense counsel, Baez draws blood from stones. He pulls rabbits from hats. He colors the wings of butterflies while in mid flight; and he sets a scene creating doubt like a Picasso with a paintbrush shading his canvas.

So long as there is doubt, there cannot be a conviction. And the intricacies of the Platinum Ponzi Scheme were so savvy, we would be surprised if there were even a modicum of steadfast clarity for the jurors. We can only hope the government has some more tricks up its sleeves.

Unlike a murder trial where there are black and white lines drawn with very few grey areas, fraud is grey and murky. The waters one needs to navigate to convict a fraudster require a periscope that can see through a curved mirror and a jury that can see through the clouds.

Baez and the counsel for co-Defendants Levy and SanFilippo picked their jury well, not a jury of Platinum’s partners’ peers, but a jury of African Americans and young adults. There may not be a Jew among them. It is hard to tell. 

And the subject matter of the Platinum case, along with the Jewish identity associated with Platinum’s main partners and its investors is ripe for confusion, so much so that today even Baez seemed to falter.

Baez began his cross examination of the witness, Daniel Mandelbaum a former CFO for Platinum, by asking whether he was Hasidic. Mandlebaum responded with an unequivocal, “No”. Baez then attempted to somehow change Mandelbaum’s response by associating Hasidic with a wife covering her hair and a man wearing a kippa. Mandelbaum was almost offended.  A jury, like Baez, would not understand the distinction between Mandelbaum’s Orthodoxy and Hasidim. But the word “Hasidic” carries its own subliminal messages. 

Baez was playing on anti-Semitisim and associations and as such setting the stage for a cultural and religious sort of confusion.

The Platinum Partners’ partners are largely modern Orthodox. Many of them live in the same neighborhood. They share the same simchas (joyous events), attend synagogue together, break bread together raise their children together, gossip with the same people, sit shiva when someone dies and keep up with one another’s increases in wealth. There are very few secrets within this community, something the jury, like Baez will not understand.

And, the investors like the partners were community members, a part of the larger Jewish Zeitgeist, only too eager to hand over their money to Nordlicht whom they trusted. That trust defined the nature of the investment and by implication, the seriousness of the crimes. They were defrauded, and sadly blinded by their own sense of community. 

The investors were wooed by Mark Nordlicht and Murray Huberfeld, David Bodner and David Levy so much so that they did not see the signs, the patterns, the inconsistencies, the numbers and returns that made no sense. They were victims, Jewish or otherwise. Mark Nordlicht knew his craft and his audience; and he dictated and controlled the documents and hence the grift. For Baez, the documents protected Platinum and Nordlicht because they were a measure of “disclosure” a waiver of sorts. For us, they were confusing and confused. They represent an admission of guilt and by deviating from market standard, the fraud committed was all the more criminal.

The overly complicated investment documents, nuanced to give Nordlicht control over every aspect of the investment, including discretionary redemptions,  a/k/a proprietary redemptions were part of Mandelbaum’s discomfit. As a matter of general business course, when redemptions are to be distributed, they are done pari passu with other members of the class of investors requesting redemptions.

By their very nature, redemptions should not be discretionary, not even for a Holocaust survivor. One of the redemptions Nordlicht did satisfy was to a Holocaust survivor. This was not done out of the goodness of Nordlicht’s heart but out of a knowledge that he should not have taken the man’s money in the first place. That’s a story for another day. The goodness of an investment manager’s heart, or lack thereof, is not something that should play into a privately held investment vehicle.  Suffice it to say, proprietary redemptions of the sort advertised in the Platinum Partners’ private placement documents were inherently fraudulent insofar as they provided preferential and discretionary treatment. As such, investors of the same class were not pari passu with others of the same class. That is, by its very nature, a fraud. 

As Baez rightfully pointed out many times, Nordlicht had discretion. NORDLICHT HAD DISCRETION. But he also had the ability to move money from one fund to another virtually unhindered. It was all a shell game.

Mandelbaum was, during his shortlived employment with Platinum, savvy enough to see the problems, Mark Nordlicht controlled everything. There were too few checks and balances.

Baez emphasized that point by sharing screens and screens of Platinum’s various documents. But in his cross examination he stumbled over the mere suggestion that the level of discretion provided to Nordlicht was anything but acceptable. The purpose of disclosures and documents in the securities world is in short “fairness.” Investments, win or lose, high risk or low risk, are supposed to be, at the very least, fair. A jury will never understand that and Baez, as a defense counsel doesn’t have to.  

Baez asked Daniel Mandelbaum about a loan from one Platinum Partners fund to another, demanding to know whether Mandelbaum had the right, during his tenure, to question the propriety of that loan. Sixteen percent (16%) in 2015 was too high. Mandelbaum responded that generally the lender gets to decide the interest rate. The Lender was Platinum a/k/a Nordlicht. The Borrower was Platinum a/k/a Nordlicht. There was no interest rate that would have made legal sense given the financially incestuous nature of the funds and their investors. Sixteen percent was simply a shnorer-type number. Nordlicht might have wanted to choose 18% instead.

At the end of the day, Nordlicht and Platinums’ partners have likely convinced themselves and anyone who will listen that they are being wrongly accused. Why us?  The defense counsel have collectively done a splendid job keeping Murray Huberfeld’s name from being mentioned at Nordlicht’s trial. When Huberfeld is mentioned, the defense insures that his 30 month conviction for bribery is not disclosed to the jury. While Federal rules of evidence may preclude this information from being conveyed to the jury, the fact remains, it was this bribe that tipped the FEDS off to the nefarious and criminal behavior of Platinum Partners’ partners. Keeping the jury in the dark will not change this fact. 

In the event that Nordlict and his fellow Defendants are acquitted, which is not unlikely due to the complexity of the case and the ignorance of the jury, it will not be the last time that the house wins. The house always wins! 

Ultimately, the very fact that Nordlicht had the discretion in all things Platinum, a point drafted into Platinum’s funds’ documents, and emphasized repeatedly by Baez, should tell the whole story. But by and by, the jury gets to decide. We fear that Baez painted a very confusing picture by his own lack of understanding of the documents themselves. It was likely quite intentional. He is a gifted attorney. And if the Defendant’s are acquitted, he will have graduated from the Sorcerer’s apprentice to the Sorcerer himself.

We give Baez credit which cannot be understated. If you are confused, you are supposed to be.  If not, it’s a shame you are not sitting in the jury box.

 

 

A Platinum Response – Fear Would Prevent Reporting, The Nordlicht Hedge

LAW360 [by subscription]

Law360, New York (May 28, 2019, 8:15 PM EDT) — A former chief financial officer for Platinum Partners on Tuesday told a New York federal jury that Platinum co-founder Mark Nordlicht told him that “mutually assured destruction” would keep aggrieved investors from ratting the hedge fund manager out to regulators, despite Platinum’s inability to make timely repayments.

Daniel Mandelbaum, who was Platinum’s CFO for about 9 1/2 months in 2014 and 2015, said he spoke to Nordlicht amid a liquidity crisis that year at Platinum’s signature fund, Platinum Partners Value Arbitrage Fund.

Mandelbaum testified that he was protesting Platinum’s practice of preferentially repaying certain investors — including insiders and those with large stakes in PPVA — ahead of other investors who had outstanding redemption requests.

Nordlicht, however, told Mandelbaum at a meeting in Nordlicht’s office that investors wouldn’t complain to the Securities and Exchange Commission, since if the regulator got involved, PPVA would be shut down and its assets sold at fire sale prices, Mandelbaum testified.

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Camp Shoresh – A Third Victim Comes Forward Alleging Abuse by Rabbi Krawatsky

Parents of Third Boy Allege Abuse by Rabbi Krawatsky

The parents of a third boy have come forward to file a lawsuit against Rabbi Steven Krawatsky, Camp Shoresh in Frederick and its executive director Rabbi David Finkelstein. Filed April 4 in the Montgomery County Circuit Court, the suit alleges physical, sexual and emotional abuse by Krawatsky while the boy was attending Camp Shoresh in 2014 and 2015.

Shoresh, Inc., and Finkelstein are also named in the suit as being negligent in protecting the boy from the alleged abuse.

In the new suit, the parents of the then six-year-old boy allege Krawatsky “groomed” the boy leading up to abuse that included allegedly offering the boy money in exchange for sexual acts and “offensively and inappropriately” touching the boy, among other alleged abuse. Counts listed in the suit against Krawatsky allege battery, false imprisonment and assault.

According to the lawyer for the parents, Jonathan Little, the new suit “will very likely be tried together” with a previous suit brought in February 2019 by the parents of two other boys Krawatsky allegedly abused while attending Camp Shoresh in 2014 and 2015, and a victim-advocate blogger who broke the story of the alleged abuse in 2017.

That countersuit followed a multimillion-dollar January 2018 defamation suit filed by Krawatsky and his wife against the parents and the blogger that included 57 counts against the five for defamation, invasion of privacy and inflicting emotional distress, among other counts.

Following the blogger’s 2017 post, New York Jewish Week published an investigative story in January 2018 about Krawatsky and the alleged abuse. Krawatsky was subsequently fired from Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School, where he was a middle school Judaic studies teacher and then resigned from leading a teen minyan at Suburban Orthodox Congregation Toras Chaim.

Christopher Rolle, lawyer for the Krawatskys, said of the new law suit, “My client is innocent and he looks forward to proving it in court.”

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How to Stop Scammers – from the Eyes of the Orthodox – The Yeshiva World Analysis, Interesting Read

“Sadly, immoral individuals have often applied the following 5 step method to ripping off substantial funds from members of our community for years.
  1. Give a large donation to an institution with a wealthy donor base. Do so magnanimously and genuinely try to help out that institution – showing that it is dear to your heart.
  2. Come up with a false, but effective sounding business plan or investment strategy, and casually talk about it to wealthy individuals.
  3. Name drop big company names and or people that have signed on and show false paper work that “proves” the whole scam.
  4. Take investment money from others and, at the outset, pay a hefty return on profits. Do so from other moneys that you are receiving.
  5. Give a significant donation to the cause where a well-liked Rabbinic leader stands behind the institution and develop a relationship with him. You will need to use this relationship in order to attempt to influence him or others around him into helping defend you against those people who realize that you have stolen their money.  Articles in the Jewish media can be squashed.  This will also help you gain more people in which to obtain more money from.
The above, is not a cynical view of the world.  It is, unfortunately, a scenario that has been repeated numerous times.  It is more prevalent than it should be, in this author’s view, because people are almost entirely unaware of a Torah obligation that is incumbent upon all of us.”

PREVENTING PONZI SCHEMERS

Yes, there is a Torah obligation upon all of us to prevent the proliferation of Ponzi schemers and rip-offs within our community.  It is called the obligation to be “chas al mammon yisroel” – a fulfillment of the Torah Mitzvah of “v’ahavata larayacha kamocha.”

The Gemorah in Moed Katan 27b tells us that when Jews were burying their dead in the finest clothing, Rabban Gamliel HaZakain arose and declared that enough was enough. The rising pressures, the “keeping up with the Joneses” in how to dress the deceased was causing enormous economic pressure on the living. “It must stop,” declared the rabbi, and the tachrichim, burial shrouds, we now use became the norm.

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Legitimizing Child Sexual Abuse, Malka Leifer, and a Meeting between Roger Cook and Yaakov Litzman

Alleged victim blasts WA Deputy Premier for meeting Israeli politician linked to Melbourne child sex accused

Alleged victims of accused child sex abuser Malka Leifer have described a meeting between WA Deputy Premier Roger Cook and an Israeli politician under investigation for allegedly hindering her extradition to Australia as deeply hurtful and a “slap in the face”.

Mr Cook met Israeli Deputy Health Minister Rabbi Yaakov Litzman while leading a delegation from WA in discussions on digital medicine, medical cannabis and vaccination policy, according to an Israeli government media statement.

Dassi Erlich, an alleged victim of a child sex accused awaiting extradition from Israel, has spoken out about WA Deputy Premier Roger Cook's meeting with an Israeli politician linked to the extradition proceedings.
Dassi Erlich, an alleged victim of a child sex accused awaiting extradition from Israel, has spoken out about WA Deputy Premier Roger Cook’s meeting with an Israeli politician linked to the extradition proceedings.CREDIT:JOE ARMAO

Rabbi Litzman has been accused of pressuring health officials and psychiatrists into declaring Ms Leifer unfit for extradition from Israel, allegations which are under investigation by the Jerusalem District Attorney’s Office.

He told Israeli media in February his intervention in the case was “all for the good of the public, everything was legal”.

Ms Leifer is the former principal of an ultra-Orthodox Jewish school in Melbourne charged with 74 counts of child sexual abuse allegedly committed against three sisters between 2001-2008.

An alleged victim of Ms Leifer, Dassi Erlich, said she was “more than infuriated” when she read Israeli news reports of Mr Cook’s meeting with Rabbi Litzman.

“I woke up to news of that meeting early this morning [Monday], and it kind of felt a bit like a slap in the face,” Ms Erlich said.

“We have Australia consistently telling us, ‘what can we do to help, we want justice in this case,’ and then we see all these reports coming from Israel saying that Litzman is alleged to have helped not just Malka Leifer, but a lot of other paedophiles escape justice.

“And here is an Australian delegation legitimising who he is and his position, given what they know about him.

“It absolutely hurt a lot.”

Ms Erlich, who first reported allegations against against Ms Leifer to police in 2011, said the allegations against Rabbi Litzman were all over the news in Israel and she couldn’t understand how an Australian politician could not have known about them.

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Israel’s Draft Dodging Haredi, the Legal Impetus, the Moral Imperative and Israel’s Financial Future

The IDF and its need for troops aren’t the real issue in the Haredi draft battle

Israel may be heading to snap elections over the enlistment of a few hundred more ultra-Orthodox recruits, which would do little to address the army’s manpower woes

 

Ultra-Orthodox Jews protest in Jerusalem against the arrest of an ultra-Orthodox young man for draft-dodging on March 7, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

Ultra-Orthodox Jews protest in Jerusalem against the arrest of an ultra-Orthodox young man for draft-dodging on March 7, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

That Israel may be heading toward a second general election within months — if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fails to form a majority coalition — actually has relatively little to do with the military or its very real manpower concerns, even though this failure stems from irreconcilable differences between the secular Yisrael Beytenu party and the ultra-Orthodox factions over the conscription of yeshiva students.

Yisrael Beytenu chief Avigdor Liberman is demanding an increase in the level of ultra-Orthodox, or Haredi, enlistment in the Israel Defense Forces, with the threat of economic sanctions on ultra-Orthodox institutions if they do not meet these goals. The Haredi parties, United Torah Judaism and Shas, are demanding precisely the opposite: more exemptions for their communities’ yeshiva students. And Netanyahu needs both Liberman and the ultra-Orthodox parties for a majority coalition.

The IDF is indeed grappling with the potential threat of significant troop shortages following a 2015 amendment to the country’s draft law that cut the mandatory service for men from three years to two years and eight months, and plans to further reduce males’ service to 30 months beginning in 2020.

Yet while ostensibly stemming from the manpower needs of the military, the direct impetus for this partisan fight between Yisrael Beytenu and the Haredi parties comes not from IDF requests, but from legal necessity.

n 2012, the High Court of Justice struck down the 2002 “Tal Law,” which had dictated ultra-Orthodox enlistment levels but was found to do so unfairly and thus illegally. A more demanding replacement law was proposed in 2013 by the Yesh Atid party, but it was soon amended and moderated once the Haredi parties were brought back into the government. In 2017, the High Court struck down that law as well, declaring it similarly unjust.

Even during the years when this weakened 2013 replacement law was in effect, the IDF never reached the prescribed Haredi enlistment numbers, sometimes falling short by hundreds of recruits.

While Netanyahu now needs to find another formulation, one that simultaneously satisfies the demands of Liberman, the ultra-Orthodox parties, and the High Court of Justice, ensuring the IDF has its manpower requirements met is not one of these demands. And nor would even the most dramatic of proposals that are seriously being considered come close to meeting the IDF’s needs.

Liberman’s plan, while seen as entirely too extreme by the Haredi factions, would see only a comparatively modest increase in the number of ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students. The proposal put forward by Liberman’s Defense Ministry last year would initially require 3,348 ultra-Orthodox men to enlist in the IDF each year and another 648 take part in some kind of national service, a small increase on the current quotas. These numbers would increase, first by eight percent each year for three years, then 6.5 percent for another three years and finally by five percent for four more years, reaching 5,737 ultra-Orthodox military recruits and 1,107 national servicemen after a decade.

If the draft falls short of 95% of these targets, sanctions in the form of cuts to state funds allocated to ultra-Orthodox yeshivas would be put in place. The fines would increase each year the targets are missed.

On Monday, Liberman confirmed that this was a symbolic battle over the nature of the country, not one about the IDF’s readiness for war.

“It’s not just the draft law. The draft law became a symbol. And we certainly won’t give up on our symbols… but look at what is happening here,” he said, referring to demands by the Haredi parties in recent months to halt all government work on Saturday.

“I want to emphasize another time: We are in favor of a Jewish state, we are against a halachic state,” Liberman added, using the Hebrew term for Jewish law.

Since the 2015 cutback, the military has adopted a host of new measures and programs to make up for its manpower losses, and the prospect of the additional reduction in 2020 is still being protested by the IDF in the halls of the Kirya — the Defense Ministry and military headquarters — and the Knesset.

The enlistment of these few hundred more Haredi recruits each year is not likely to have a significant effect on the military’s manpower shortages, nor is it trumpeted by IDF officials as a potential game-changer on this front, especially as ultra-Orthodox servicemen require on average more investment per soldier by the IDF due to their community’s relatively low socioeconomic position.

There are, of course, other reasons for encouraging greater Haredi enlistment in the military beyond simple manpower numbers.

Israel remains one of the few countries around the world with near universal conscription, and the IDF is described as a “people’s army,” one that is supposed to reflect the diverse nature of Israeli society.

This is a “supreme value that will continue to serve as the basis for the IDF’s activities and to direct it,” the Defense Ministry wrote in its recommendations last year.

The military can also serve as an important economic and social springboard, offering people skills, qualifications and experiences that would be otherwise difficult or expensive to obtain — especially for a comparatively poor and economically underperforming community like Israel’s ultra-Orthodox.

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Israel Headed Toward Political Meltdown as Shasniks Refuse to Submit to Mandatory IDF Service Like all Israelis

The New York Times

With 2 Days Left, Israel’s Netanyahu Struggles to Form a Government

 

JERUSALEM — With just two days left before the deadline for forming a government, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel was struggling Monday to sign up coalition partners, thrusting the country into a political crisis and raising the possibility that it could be forced to hold a new election.

The drama stemmed from a battle of wills between two political forces that Mr. Netanyahu needs to form a right-wing coalition: the ultra-Orthodox religious parties that won 16 parliamentary seats in the April 9 election, and Avigdor Lieberman’s ultranationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party, which won five seats and whose constituents are mostly secular, Russian-speaking Israelis.

Having long sparred over issues of religion and state, the sides are now wrestling over legislation to replace a military draft law that exempted ultra-Orthodox men. Mr. Lieberman supports a law that sets modest quotas for enlisting them, which the religious parties oppose.

A new law must be passed by late July, according to a deadline imposed by Israel’s Supreme Court.

Mr. Netanyahu’s conservative Likud party, which won 35 seats, needs the ultra-Orthodox parties, Yisrael Beiteinu and two other parties to assemble a 61-seat majority.

Analysts said it was entirely possible that the parties could resolve their differences, allowing Mr. Netanyahu to announce a new government by midnight Wednesday, which would not be the first time Israeli coalition negotiations have gone to the wire.

But the alternative threatened to catapult Israel into uncharted political terrain: Israel has never had to hold a new national ballot because of a failure to form a government after an election.

“Right now it looks as if we are at a deadlock because everybody has climbed to the top of a tree and nobody’s ready to get down, especially not Lieberman,” said Abraham Diskin, professor emeritus of political science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Putting the chances of a new election at 50-50, he added, “Definitely there is a possibility that we will have early elections even before the government was formed.”

On Sunday, Likud submitted a motion to disperse the newly sworn-in Parliament, paving the way for new elections. While questions arose over the legality of an interim government taking such action, the move seemed like a canny negotiating tactic in a game of political chicken.

By Monday, one newspaper, Maariv, had already published a poll asking, “If elections were held today, who would you vote for?”

On Monday evening, the motion passed a preliminary vote in Parliament; possible dates were being bandied about for a new election in about three months.

Even as his party moved toward a new election, Mr. Netanyahu insisted he didn’t want one.

“It is still possible to come to our senses,” he said in a televised address Monday evening. “I promise that I will continue to work in every possible way during the time that is still left in order to form the government. I call upon Avigdor Lieberman to reconsider.”

Mr. Netanyahu also quoted a tweet posted on Monday by President Trump endorsing Mr. Netanyahu’s efforts, which many critics described as an improper intervention in Israel’s domestic politics. Mr. Trump, calling Mr. Netanyahu by his nickname, Bibi, wrote: “Hoping things will work out with Israel’s coalition formation and Bibi and I can continue to make the alliance between America and Israel stronger than ever.”

Calling a new election would pre-empt another possibility, distasteful to Mr. Netanyahu, that Israel’s president, Reuven Rivlin, could offer someone else the chance to form a government.

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Avigdor Lieberman, the former defense minister, said he was not prepared to be part of a government controlled by religious law.CreditDan Balilty for The New York Times

The opposition is led by Blue and White, a new centrist party whose main appeal was that it was not led by Mr. Netanyahu, who has already served 13 years as prime minister and is facing indictment on corruption charges.

Mr. Netanyahu, who is on track to become Israel’s longest serving prime minister this summer, is also the first to face possible criminal charges while in office. In February, the attorney general announced plans to indict him in three cases for bribery, fraud and breach of trust.

The attorney general has set a hearing for October where Mr. Netanyahu’s lawyers can plead his case before a final decision is made.

The Likud nevertheless won five more seats than last time, which Mr. Netanyahu took as a vote of confidence, and together with the right-wing and religious parties that made up his last coalition, seemed poised to form a government with a majority of 65 seats.

He also appeared set to take on another challenge — promoting legislation that would guarantee him immunity from prosecution while in office. Tens of thousands of Israelis rallied in Tel Aviv on Saturday night in a protest against such a move.

Instead, Mr. Netanyahu has found himself at the mercy of smaller parties engaged in a power struggle over the military draft law, which critics said was in any case a mild compromise unlikely to significantly change the status quo.

There is a long history of bad blood between Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Lieberman, a blunt, tough-talking politician who resigned as defense minister in Mr. Netanyahu’s last government and was eyeing returning to the post.

Some commentators suggested that Mr. Lieberman was driven by a desire for revenge against his old nemesis, or was counting on the prospect that Mr. Netanyahu could not survive an indictment and was setting himself up as an alternative.

To continue click here.

Police in Ontario, Canada are Looking for Information on Elder Abuse at Facility – We are Trying to Find Ownership Info.

EMPLOYEE CHARGED: Elderly patient assaulted in Clarence-Rockland nursing home

Ontario Provincial PoliceFile photo

A 63-year-old employee is facing a charge of assault causing bodily harm after Russell County OPP investigated an “altercation” involving a patient at an unidentified Clarence-Rockland long-term care facility May 20.

Police are calling it an allegation of elder abuse.

Someone concerned for the resident’s well-being called police at 9:30 a.m. last Monday to report the incident, which left the resident, whose age wasn’t disclosed, with minor injuries. She did not need to be taken to the hospital.

Suze Marie Colin of Rockland appears in court in L’Orignal June 19.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call Russell County OPP at 613-443-4499 or the OPP’s communication centre at 1-888-310-1122.

The Resignation of Heinz Christian Strache, a Damning Video and Allegations of Mossad Involvement

Mossad accused of leaking video that rattled Austrian politics

A former German intelligence official said that only the Mossad has the capability and interest in toppling far-right politicians for fear of welfare of European Jewish communities; CER: a dangerous claim, whiffs of anti-Semitism
According to a German Intelligence official, the Israeli Intelligence service Mossad was behind the leak of a damning video, which led to the resignation of Austria’s far right Freedom Party chief Heinz-Christian Strache. 

The video, prompting the resignation and the subsequent dissolvement of Austria’s coalition government, allegedly shows Strache offering a Russian woman government contracts in exchange for financial benefit for his party.

 

A scene from the recording of Strach and the "Russian"

A scene from the recording of Strach and the “Russian”

 

Rudolf Adam, former diplomat and dep. director of Germany’s secret service, published an article in the German monthly Cicero claiming: “Israel has an interest in promoting policies friendly to it and the growth of a radically right party poses a threat to European Jewish communities,” he said.

“It is unlikely that a European country is behind this campaign,” Rudolf wrote. “American intelligence agencies are occupied with Korea, Iran and China. The policies of President Donald Trump actually, support the right-wing stance of the former Austrian vice chancellor. The Russians had a good relationship with Strache. Regarding China and the Arab states, they have no reason to get involved in Austrian politics.”

 

Strache with Austrian PM Kurz

Strache with Austrian PM Kurz

 

After eliminating all other options, Rudolf concludes that only “one country has the manpower and technological capability to carry out such a campaign, as well as a clear motive — Israel.

“European Jewish communities fear the rise in anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial. Israel has an interest in promoting friendly policies toward it and toward Jewish communities in Europe and if radical right-wing movements continue to grow, the EU policies may become more extreme and harmful to Jewish communities,” Rudolf continued.

The Conference of European Rabbis (CER) made up of 700 rabbis of Jewish communities, view these claims with concern. President of CER, Moscow chief rabbi, Pinchas Goldschmidt, said the attempt to blame Israel for the political downfall of a right-wing politician is reminiscent of classic anti-Semitism, and cannot be ignored.

 

Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt

Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt

 

The embarrassing photographs were published in two major German newspapers and show Mr. Strache conversing with a woman who introduced herself as the niece of a Russian oligarch, and allegedly discussed a corrupt deal. It is unclear who initiated the meeting and who covertly filmed it. 

According to the reports, the meeting was held in a private villa in Ibiza. The two sat side by side on a couch smoking and drinking.

On the tape the woman was heard offering to purchase 50% of the Austrian newspaper Kronen Zeitung and tilt its coverage in favor of Strache’s Freedom Party.

In exchange, Strache would send government contracts the woman’s way. He noted he wanted the kind of coverage Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban is enjoying.

 

He also named some journalists he would like to see pushed out of the paper and five others he said “are new employees who we will promote”.

To continue reading click here.

 

Israel, Malka Leifer, Australia, Health Minister Litzman and his Complicity – Media Release

MEDIA RELEASE: Developments in Malka Leifer case

To download this statement release in PDF format, click here.


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Developments in Malka Leifer case

28 May 2019


The ongoing significant delay in extraditing accused pedophile, Malka Leifer, from Israel to Australia to face 74 charges involving allegations that she sexually abused at least eight pupils during her time as principal of the Adass Israel school in Melbourne between 2003 and 2008, is causing growing dismay across the Australian Jewish community.

Malka Leifer left Melbourne to return to Israel in 2008 within hours of the allegations against her coming to light, and before a warrant could be issued for her arrest in Australia.

Since her arrest by the authorities in Israel in August 2014 following Australia making a formal request for her extradition, the extradition proceedings have come before the courts in Israel on more than 50 occasions. However, no order for her extradition to Australia has been made, as her lawyers continue to argue that she is unfit to stand trial due to her alleged mental state. Those seeking her extradition have produced evidence suggesting that she has been malingering.

The consternation about the delays in the case have been heightened by the fact that Israel’s Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman was interrogated by Israeli police in February 2019 over allegations that he met with Jerusalem’s district psychiatrist, Dr Jacob Charnes, to pressure him into issuing a false assessment for Leifer in support of her claim that she should not be extradited to Australia because she is mentally unfit to stand trial. Mr Litzman and Ms Leifer are both members of the Gur chasidic sect.

In recent weeks Israeli media have reported on further allegations that Litzman and his ministry intervened on behalf of at least 10 convicted sex offenders, including pressuring psychiatrists in at least one other case. Litzman has denied all wrong-doing.

These allegations of executive interference in the judicial process raise grave questions about the integrity of the handling of the Leifer case in Israel while Mr Litzman remains in any government position. We call upon acting Prime Minister Netanyahu to announce an official inquiry into the allegations, and to confirm that Mr Litzman will not be appointed to any executive office pending the outcome of the inquiry.

Litzman’s political party, United Torah Judaism, which won 8 seats in the recent general election in Israel, may be a coalition partner in Israel’s next government. We maintain that political considerations must have no bearing whatsoever on the Leifer case, and that Israel’s judiciary must operate with complete independence and impartiality. Justice must not only be done but also be seen to be done.

This is not a matter that concerns Israel exclusively. Ms Leifer’s accusers in Australia, the Australian government and citizens of Australia, especially the Jewish community, have a deep and direct interest in the case. We will not rest until Malka Leifer is extradited to Australia and put on trial.

We continue to stand with the survivors who have persevered these long years to bring Malka Leifer to justice. Their dignity in the face of delays in the extradition trial and allegations of impropriety by various officials are to their great credit.

Contact
Peter Wertheim AM | co-CEO
ph: 02 8353 8500 | m: 0408 160 904 | fax 02 9361 5888
e: 
pwertheim@ecaj.org.au | www.ecaj.org.au 

The Three Identities of Fraud Within the Jewish Community – Platinum and the Hebrew, English and Yiddish Lexicon

Platinum Partners’ partners’ Indictments – Back to to the Very Beginning, and the Yiddish, Hebrew and English Identities of the Actors Involved

[Edited 5/27/19 5:23pm]

Dear Reader:

As a point of clarification, to our last blog post, we have gone back to the very beginning, the original indictments in 2016 as posted by the Department of Justice. (see below).

The entire scheme is extremely complicated and significant information has been added since the initial indictment. For our purposes, we caught on because the actors involved follow the same patterns in every fraud they commit, beginning as early as NorCrown Trust.  These men, particularly Huberfeld and Nordlicht did not deviate from a recipe that had already yielded them significant success and as time went on they simply perfected. There was not reason to.

However what has not been emphasized, and until recently with our own litigation playing out in the courts we did not realize, is that there is another aspect to these crimes, the KYC (Know Your Client) or in this case, knowing your audience and more particularly what language they would be most likely to warm up to. The players in these criminal endeavors, whether Platinum or real estate, mortgage fraud, nursing home fraud, all have something in comment – a keen sense of their audience. Platinum’s partners used that sense and the language required to provide the audience with comfort  to gain credibility, to gain trust and ultimately to play out a fraud of epic proportions. While the amount of money stolen out from under the hands of investors was not money of Madoff proportions, Madoff was straightforward in his scheme. He had been a reputable businessman. He was savvy, a grown up amongst men. There was a measure of honor among his type of thievery. Madoff’s crimes were less that of a seasoned criminal mastermind; but more like someone who stepped off the reservation… because he could.

In the case of Platinum, these guys understand the differences, however minute, between dealing with someone in Yiddish, someone in Hebrew and someone in English. These were three uniquely different types of clients and needed a vastly superior approach to gain their trust. The scheme involved a deep understanding of cultural differences and a brilliant mechanism for utilizing that knowledge to their advantage; and the perpetrators are masters of disguise. 

We have been told by multiple sources that the key to fraud within the religious community is really who calls whom by what name. For Mark Nordlicht, there were those who knew him as Moshe and those who knew him as Moshe Mark and those for whom he was simply Mark. It depended upon the shifting winds and the perceptions of the audience with which he was mingling. 

In Andrew Kaplan’s testimony he outlines 200 secret recordings he took of Mark Nordlicht, which he maintains were taken for the purpose of protecting his salary and other business matters. Perhaps he knew that at some point he would need to defend himself. One can only speculate. But it is clear from the testimony and the recordings that Nordlicht had a keen sense of language and which words to use for which thoughts he wanted to convey. This is no different from secret Morse codes or other codes used by governments and individuals communicating in languages they want kept between themselves. And the beauty of Hebrew and Yiddish is that each expression can have multiple meanings; but anyone speaking or listening knows exactly and precisely what is being said and in what context. The words have biblical messages and political messages and nuanced undertones. Gaining the key to how to communicate with the investors Platinum sought and the big money it wanted was in the language – the masters of disguise.

The same holds true of Moshe Mark Feuer. It is noted that he has maintained and continues to maintain his innocence, that he was a victim. We think that is farcical in all of its iterations, whether in Hebrew, Yiddish or English; but it is not for us to decide. Moshe Mark Feuer had all of the qualities of a businessman and the savvy to use words in different languages and lexicons which would state what he understood and give an indication on how to hide his thoughts from whomever was not on the “need to know” list at any given time. 

Expressions like “b’lev shalem” comes up quite often in the Kaplan tapes with Nordlict. It means wholeheartedly. The word “mehalech” in Hebrew is another. The translation referred to the complications they would have. Nordlicht’s brilliant defense team has maintained that this was all in humor and a jury comprised of African American jurors might accept that explanation, not understanding the cultural implications. But those of us sitting on the sidelines watching this play out know better. 

What we have discovered through our own experiences is that the usage of different names in different languages can be found on deeds and loans and financial transactions of people who function within the religious community. Moshe Mark Nordlicht has three separate identities as do many of the other actors within the communities we investigate. Their homes, their bank accounts, their businesses, their family trusts, their telephone number, their entire lives revolve around the ability to carefully maneurver three uniquely separate identities, one in Hebrew, one in English, on in Yiddish and sometimes iterations of those.  

The language did play a role in encoding the nature of the transactions and this should be something a jury is helped to understand. It is key to the frauds that we have covered on each page of this blog in one form or another, with very few exceptions.

We just hope someone equally matched with the brilliance of the defense team and a cultural understanding of the interactions between the bad actors in this sordid affair is listening and paying attention; and has the ability to convey this to the Platinum Partners’ partners’ jurors.

 

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, December 19, 2016

Platinum Partners’ Founder And Chief Investment Officer Among Five Indicted In A $1 Billion Investment Fraud

Two Additional Individuals Indicted In A $50 Million Bond Fraud Involving Black Elk Energy, One Of Platinum’s Largest Portfolio Companies

BROOKLYN, N.Y. – An eight-count indictment was unsealed this morning in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, charging seven defendants, all of whom are or were formerly affiliated with Platinum Partners L.P. (Platinum), a purportedly $1.7 billion hedge fund based in New York, New York.  The indicted individuals are: Mark Nordlicht, the founder and Chief Investment Officer of Platinum; David Levy, the co-Chief Investment Officer of Platinum; Uri Landesman, the former Managing Partner and President of Platinum; Joseph SanFilippo, the Chief Financial Officer of Platinum’s signature hedge fund; Joseph Mann, a member of Platinum’s Investor Relations and Finance Departments; Daniel Small, a former Managing Director and co-Portfolio Manager of Platinum; and Jeffrey Shulse, the former Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer of Black Elk Energy Offshore Operations, LLC (Black Elk).[1]

Nordlicht, Levy, Landesman, SanFilippo and Mann are charged with securities fraud, investment adviser fraud, securities fraud conspiracy, investment adviser fraud conspiracy and wire fraud conspiracy for defrauding investors through, among other things, the overvaluation of their largest assets, the concealment of severe cash flow problems at Platinum’s signature fund, and the preferential payment of redemptions.  Nordlicht, Levy, Small and Shulse are charged with securities fraud, securities fraud conspiracy and wire fraud conspiracy for defrauding Black Elk’s independent bondholders through a fraudulent offering document and diverting more than $95 million in proceeds to Platinum by falsely representing in the offering document that Platinum controlled approximately $18 million of the bonds when, in fact, Platinum controlled more than $98 million of the bonds.

Nordlicht, Levy, Landesman, SanFilippo, Mann, Small and Shulse will be arraigned later today before United States Magistrate Judge Lois Bloom at the United States Courthouse, 225 Cadman Plaza East, Brooklyn, New York.  Shulse’s initial appearance for removal proceedings to the Eastern District of New York is scheduled for this afternoon at the United States Courthouse, 515 Rusk Avenue, Houston, Texas.

The charges were announced by Robert L. Capers, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI); and Philip Bartlett, Inspector-in-Charge, United States Postal Inspection Service, New York Division (USPIS).

“As alleged, Nordlicht and his cohorts engaged in one of the largest and most brazen investment frauds perpetrated on the investing public, earning Platinum more than $100 million in fees during the charged conspiracy.  Platinum Partners purported to be a standard bearer in the hedge fund industry, reporting annual average returns of more than 17 percent since inception in 2003.  In reality, their returns were the result of the overvaluation of their largest assets, which eventually led to Nordlicht and his co-conspirators operating Platinum like a Ponzi scheme, where they used loans and new investor funds to pay off existing investors,” stated United States Attorney Capers.  “The charges and arrests announced today reflect our steadfast commitment to holding accountable hedge funds on Wall Street who rip off investors for personal gain.”  Mr. Capers thanked the Securities and Exchange Commission, New York Regional Office (SEC) for their significant cooperation and assistance during the investigation.

“This case shows how several members of this firm allegedly manipulated and lied to investors about the health of the investments they were making, and then plotted ways to cover up their actions.  The FBI and our law enforcement partners do all we can to stop these schemes and to keep fraudsters from stealing from investors, but we can’t do it alone.  We need people to call us when they see things that don’t add up, or don’t make sense,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney.

“These Platinum Partners employees devised a scheme to lure investors to funds they managed knowing the funds were insolvent and would not return the high yields they claimed. Postal Inspectors will never tolerate unfairness in the market and will vigorously pursue and bring to justice anyone who breaks the law, ensuring there is an honest and secure trading environment for investors,” stated USPIS Inspector-in-Charge Bartlett.

*          *          *

As detailed in the indictment, between 2011 and 2016, Nordlicht and Levy, together with their co-conspirators, orchestrated two separate schemes: (i) a scheme to defraud investors and prospective investors in funds managed by Platinum; and (ii) a scheme to defraud third-party holders of Black Elk’s bonds.

The Fraudulent Investment Scheme

Platinum was a hedge fund founded in 2003 and based in New York, New York.  Since September 2011, Platinum was registered with the SEC as an investment adviser.  Platinum managed several hedge funds, but the vast majority of its assets were invested through Platinum Partners Value Arbitrage Fund, L.P. (PPVA) and Platinum Partners Credit Opportunities Master Fund, L.P. (PPCO).  Platinum charged its investors a two percent management fee and a 20 percent incentive or performance fees.  In March 2016, Platinum reported to regulators, including the SEC, that it had $1.7 billion in assets under management (AUM), including approximately $1.1 billion in gross asset value in PPVA and more than $590 million in PPCO.

Between November 2012 and December 2016, Nordlicht, Levy, Landesman, SanFilippo and Mann, together with others, participated in a scheme to defraud investors and prospective investors in Platinum through lies and omissions relating to, among other things: (i) the performance of some of PPVA’s highly illiquid and privately-held assets; (ii) PPVA’s accessibility to cash or assets that could easily be converted into cash; (iii) the purpose of loans raised through investors and the use of those loan proceeds; and (iv) PPVA’s preferential redemption, or investor payment, process.  Specifically, Platinum fraudulently overvalued some of PPVA’s highly illiquid and privately-held assets in order to, among other things, boost performance numbers, attract new investors, retain existing investors and extract high management and incentive fees.  From 2012 through 2016, Platinum extracted more than $100 million in fees based, in large part, on their overvalued assets.  Platinum’s overvaluation of some of their assets precipitated a severe cash crunch, which Platinum initially attempted to mitigate through high-interest loans between its various hedge funds and related entities.  When the inter-fund loans proved insufficient to resolve PPVA’s cash crunch, Platinum began selectively paying some investors ahead of others, contrary to the terms of its governing documents.

As early as 2012, Nordlicht and his co-conspirators knew that PPVA was in trouble, but concealed that reality from investors and prospective investors.  For example, on November 6, 2012, upon learning that PPVA’s investors had sought $27 million in redemptions, Nordlicht exchanged emails with Landesman that stated, in part: “If we don’t exceed [the $27 million in redemptions] in [subscriptions] . . . we are probably going to have to put black elk in side pocket . . . It’s just very daunting.  It seems like we make some progress and then [redemptions] are relentless almost.  It’s tough to get ahead in [subscriptions] if u have to replace 150-200 a year.”

By 2014, the defendants were relying almost exclusively on new investments and inter-fund loans to pay redemptions to PPVA’s investors.  For example, on April 29, 2014, when faced with requests from investors who had not yet received their redemptions, Nordlicht sent an email to SanFilippo that stated, in part: “Start paying down [redemptions] as [you] can.  Between [a new investor] and [a one-off loan] (additional 10 million), [should] have decent short term infusion.  Hopefully some [M]ay 1 [new investments] show up as well.  Have a few more outflows to discuss but this is obviously the priority.”  Nordlicht and his co-defendants concealed PPVA’s cash crunch and selective redemption payments from investors.  For example, in an investor call on January 14, 2015, Nordlicht stated, in part: “If we look historically, we’ve been very very fortunate . . . we’re running about a billion four between all our different entities . . . I think we’ve returned about double that in cash to investors, so that is really an indication of . . . being very very liquid and nimble . . . in terms of 2015 for PPVA, we are targeting much higher returns than normal.”

Nordlicht’s and Landesman’s knowledge of Platinum’s dire situation was perhaps best illustrated by an email exchange on December 13, 2015.  When Nordlicht forwarded an email to Landesman where he had informed a co-conspirator that his wife was convincing him to get on a flight to Israel if he was unable to get a loan from his partners to save the fund, Landesman responded: “You should get on the flight if there is no bridge [loan], probably even if there is . . . We need to go through the mehalech of how we are going to share this with clients and employees, going to be very rough, big shame . . . it was nice seeing you, hopefully the girls will reacclimate [sic] quickly.”  Notwithstanding the above email exchange, on February 7, 2016, Landesman sent an email to an investor that stated, in part: “Fund is sound, I believe, new structure ideal.  Mark [Nordlicht] is really energized.  Hope to be beyond liquidity concerns forever by end of May, we welcome your further investment.”

PPVA was heavily invested in oil and gas companies that performed significantly below expectations and the valuations that Platinum attributed to them.  These valuations were further undermined by the plummeting price of oil, which dropped from approximately $105 per barrel in December 2013, to approximately $60 per barrel in December 2014, to approximately $36 per barrel in December 2015.

Despite the severe problems that PPVA was facing beginning in at least 2012, Platinum reported that PPVA’s AUM increased from approximately $727 million at the end of 2012, to approximately $757 million at the end of 2013, to approximately $770 million at the end of 2014, to approximately $910 million at the end of 2015.  Platinum collected two percent management fees off these amounts and 20 percent incentive fees off the profits.

The Fraudulent Black Elk Bond Scheme

From approximately November 2011 to December 2016, Nordlicht, Levy, Small and Shulse, together with their co-conspirators, orchestrated a fraudulent scheme to defraud third-party holders of Black Elk’s publicly-traded bonds (the bondholders) by diverting the proceeds from the sale of the vast majority of Black Elk’s most lucrative assets to Platinum even though the bondholders had priority over Platinum’s equity interests.  As early as November 2011, Nordlicht, Levy and Small were plotting to deceive the bondholders.  For example, when Nordlicht learned about the relevant covenants associated with the bonds, he sent an email to Levy, Small and another that stated: “Seem like there are bond[s] to be had out there and an additional 60 million is 24 down . . . We [would] have to figure it out . . . I’m sure we can get them in friendly hands if the covenants are going to be an obstacle.”

By late 2013, faced with the fact that Black Elk was effectively insolvent but knowing that Black Elk still possessed certain valuable assets, the defendants pursued opportunities to sell Black Elk’s assets while simultaneously pursuing a fraudulent strategy to divert the proceeds from any such asset sale to the preferred equity stockholders, which were controlled by Platinum, instead of the bondholders.  To execute this scheme, in early 2014, the defendants caused Platinum to purchase Black Elk bonds on the open market to gain control of a majority of the $150 million of outstanding bonds.  Platinum purchased and then transferred the bonds through a number of related entities in an effort to conceal Platinum’s ownership and control of the bonds.

By approximately April 2014, Platinum owned and controlled approximately $98 million of the $150 million of outstanding bonds.  Between March 2014 and April 2014, Platinum and its related parties also purchased the vast majority of the outstanding preferred equity that was owned by third parties to obtain nearly 100 percent ownership of the preferred equity.  By approximately May 2014, when alternative approaches failed, the defendants, together with others, determined that the only path to getting the preferred equity paid ahead of the bondholders was through a cash tender offer and consent solicitation process.  On July 2, 2014, Small forwarded an email from a Platinum trader to Nordlicht and Levy that set forth the following summary of the $98,631,000 of the bonds controlled by Platinum: (i) PPCO: $32,917,000; (ii) PPVA: $18,321,000; (iii) PPLO: $17,046,000; (iv) BAM [a related entity]: $13,360,000; and (v) BBIL [a related entity]: $16,987,000.  Nevertheless, in response to a query from an attorney, on July 9, 2014, Small sent an email that stated, in part: “$18,321,000 bonds are controlled by PPVA and should be disclosed and excluded from the calculation.  I believe this implies that $65,840,000 are required to obtain a majority consent.”

On July 16, 2014, Black Elk announced that it had commenced a public offer for the bonds (the Consent Solicitation).  The Consent Solicitation and accompanying press release provided, among other things, that: (i) Black Elk had commenced a cash tender offer to purchase the outstanding bonds at par value; (ii) Black Elk was soliciting bondholders’ consents to modify certain of the restrictive covenants governing the bonds; (iii) the bondholders that tendered their bonds would be considered to have validly delivered their consent to the proposed amendments; (iv) the bondholders could also consent to the proposed amendments without tendering their bonds; (v) the Consent Solicitation was being made in connection with the sale of assets and the net proceeds of the sale would be used by Black Elk to purchase the tendered bonds; and (vi) the offer would expire at 5:00 p.m. New York time on August 13, 2014.

Notably, the Consent Solicitation prohibited “any person directly or indirectly controlling or controlled by or under direct or indirect common control with [Black Elk]” from voting in the Consent Solicitation process.  Thus, the approximately $98 million of bonds controlled by Platinum should have been excluded from the voting process.  Nonetheless, the defendants caused Black Elk to disclose in the Consent Solicitation that: “[PPVA] and its affiliates, which own approximately 85% of our outstanding voting membership interests, own[ed] approximately $18,321,000 principal amount of the outstanding Notes.  Otherwise, neither we, nor any person directly or indirectly controlled by or under direct or indirect common control with us, nor, to our knowledge, any person directly or indirectly controlling us, held any Notes.”

The defendants then caused Platinum’s related parties to consent to the proposed amendments but not tender their bonds.  As of the offer’s expiration on August 13, 2014, bondholders that held $11,333,000 of the BE Bonds validly had tendered and were paid.  To the surprise of the remaining bondholders, who were unaware of Platinum’s control of $98,631,000 or approximately 65 percent of the BE Bonds, the trustee revealed that the holders of $110,565,000 or approximately 73.71 percent of the bonds had validly consented to the Consent Solicitation, thereby allowing the preferred equity to get paid from the proceeds of Black Elk’s sale of assets.

On or about August 11, 2015, Black Elk’s creditors filed a petition to place the company into an involuntary Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which was converted on or about September 1, 2015 to a voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy.  As of December 2016, a number of bondholders who did not tender their BE Bonds have yet to receive the principal amount of their holdings.

*          *          *

The criminal case has been assigned to Chief Judge Dora L. Irizarry of the United States District Court.  If convicted, each of the defendants faces a maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment.

The government’s case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Business and Securities Fraud Section.  Assistant United States Attorneys Winston Paes, Alicyn Cooley, Lauren Elbert and Sarah Evans are in charge of the prosecution, with assistance provided by Assistant United States Attorney Brian Morris of the Office’s Civil Division.

*          *          *

The charges were brought in connection with the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force.  The task force was established to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes.  With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices, and state and local partners, it is the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud.  Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets; and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations.  Since fiscal year 2009, the Justice Department has filed over 18,000 financial fraud cases against more than 25,000 defendants.  For more information on the task force, please visit http://www.StopFraud.gov.

The Defendants:

MARK NORDLICHT
Age: 48
Residence: New Rochelle, New York

DAVID LEVY
Age: 31
Residence: New York, New York

URI LANDESMAN
Age: 55
Residence: New Rochelle, New York

JOSEPH SANFILIPPO
Age: 38
Residence: Freehold, New Jersey

JOSEPH MANN
Age: 24
Residence: Brooklyn, New York

DANIEL SMALL
Age: 47
Residence: New York, New York

JEFFREY SHULSE
Age: 44
Residence: Houston, Texas

E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 16-CR-640 (DLI)

 


 

[1] The charges announced today are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Topic(s):
Financial Fraud
Securities, Commodities, & Investment Fraud
StopFraud
Updated December 19, 2016