Eastman Kodak, A Loan From the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, a Fabulous Share Price, Kushner and a Donation
The underlying premise of the following opinion analysis is that there was and has been a relationship between Jared Kushner and Kodak’s board member George Karfunkel. That relationship, as we see it, is one based in real estate holdings and transactions, between well connected religious families that travel in the same circles, either directly or indirectly strengthened to religious connections; and then fostered by Kushner’s lifelong political elite status. This is a relationship that, when accompanied by a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” approach, offers Trump significant access to donations and religious Jewish bloc voting as well as the ear of officials in countries like Israel and the Ukraine. It’s all about money and Jewish geography.
It is our belief that the $750M loan to Kodak by a little known US government development corporation whose head is a former Kushner college roommate was no coincidence and was a means to filter money to Kodak, couched in a brain trust Kushner was tasked with building to try to overcome a formidable opponent, Covid-19. Whether or not the company’s head knew of the seeming lack of propriety of the Kodak deal remains open to debate. He spoke frequently about the deal and seems to have sincerely believed he was going to both rebuild a company and slow or even stop the spread of Covid-19.
He has claimed that Covid-19 made the entire loan idea completely reasonable. We beg to differ. Regardless, Kodak had been lobbying the US government for months and while somewhat questionable, Kodak’s ability to re-define itself might have been palatable, or at least was not exquisitely unfathomable. Had monumental increase in share price and corporate greed not come to lay waste on the transaction in the form of some dubious stock trades, including a donation, that loan probably would have materialized.
On August 7th, 2020 it was put on hold. We do not believe it should be provided.
We opine that the metioric rise of Kodak share price on the announcement of the Kodak loan was well-timed by Kodak’s board member, also the Director of Amtrust, George Karfunkel who used a single moment in time to run a significant donation through a mysterious [” virtually non-existent”] yeshiva, Chemdas Yisroel, effectively maximizing gains in the stock which otherwise would not have materialized. The parenthetical in the previous sentence regarding the status of Chemdas Yisroel is based upon a complete lack of paper for the mysterious Yeshiva, an address which is an unlikely place to hide a Yeshiva with a newly acquired $100+Million and corporate filings that seem inconsistent with a company that donates or that fosters young minds. The board of directors is also not easily found but word is that it is a group of people, family members of Karfunkel, who are oft involved in monumentally profitable loophole-based transactions.
Not coincidentally, the Yeshiva was incorporated by a signatory located at an address in Monsey, New York, 25 Robert Pitt Drive, a location that is the alleged principal location for dozens of seemingly opaque companies, nearly all in the hard money lending, real estate, finance and not-for-profit charities and Yeshivas industries. The Char 440 Registration Statement for Chemdas Yisroel, Inc. can be found here.
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“Under regulations instituted as a result of the COVID-19 public health emergency, skilled nursing facilities are reporting a wealth of information to the federal government — on top of all the information they were required to submit pre-pandemic.
And that information could end up being the guiding light for the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG), according to a webinar hosted Thursday by the continuing education provider Strafford.
The presentation focused on reporting requirements for SNFs, government enforcement actions and compliance, and preparation for enhanced enforcement.”
“Is this really the perfect storm, then, for a potential wave of lawsuits initiated by DOJ with a much richer database for targeting facilities with with a record in infection control surveys and IJs [immediate jeopardy deficiencies]?” McGovern asked on the webinar. “Time will tell about that. But it’s not simply DOJ. If DOJ doesn’t take the initiative, whistleblowers can also bring lawsuits under the False Claims Act (FCA) and seek to recover the considerable damages afforded under the FCA.”
FCA cases relate to the conduct of private companies that do business with Medicare, Medicaid, and other public health care funding sources, and generally involve fraud, as Bloomberg noted in September 2019 covering an announcement by the DOJ that it would pursue criminal charges in such cases that involved nursing homes.
Many of the claims that hit nursing homes related to the provision of therapy, such as the $30 million settlement agreed to by the Louisville, Ky.-based Signature HealthCARE, the $15 million settlement from Brockway, Pa.-based Guardian Elder Care, or the saga related to the case of several SNFs and a therapy company that eventually settled for $255 million.
To continue reading click here.
We are again at a crossroads. Both in the Jewish calendar, entering into Yom Kippur, where life and death decisions will be made, and in the world of COVID-19, with a disconcerting continuing rise in cases in our area, where life and death decisions will be made.
“Mi Bamageifa” (and who will die by plague…):
In just the past 24 hours, I have been inundated with numerous pressing shailos from communities all over regarding COVID-19 exposures. Here are but a few of the quarantine questions that Rabbonim and shul presidents have asked me.
To remove any doubts about the scientific truths to date, these are the undisputed COVID-19 facts.
Worldwide to date: Cases: 31,672,300; Deaths: 972,081
United States to date: Cases: 6,897,661; Deaths: 200,818
Why is this happening now?
This all “re-started” with the flagrant disregard for scientifically vetted guidelines around weddings and kiddushim, large public gatherings, with many people eating unmasked and in close proximity.
What proof exists, you may ask, that such events indeed cause suffering? Maine public health officials just published a shocking report of an August 7th wedding in Millinocket, Maine. At the wedding, guests ignored social distancing guidelines and mask recommendations. The results: 135 guests got COVID-19, with 7 guests DYING from this wedded bliss exposure. Do you think that young couple will ever be able to look back happily at what should have been one of the most joyous events in their life, knowing that their “simcha” was the cause of so much misery? This wedding is just one in a list of several studied “superspreader” events in the country over the summer. How many more are still to occur?
To continue reading click here.
NEW YORK (AP) — A spike in COVID-19 cases in a handful of Brooklyn and Queens neighborhoods with large Orthodox Jewish populations is raising alarm bells even as New York City’s overall infection rate remains low, city officials said Wednesday.
The neighborhoods including Borough Park and Williamsburg accounted for 20% of the city’s COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, according to city Health Department numbers.
“We have a lot to do because we’re seeing a serious uptick in multiple neighborhoods simultaneously,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at his daily coronavirus briefing. “And it’s something we have to address with a very aggressive public health effort right away.”
Some neighborhoods have drawn scrutiny since early in the coronavirus pandemic for large gatherings that violated social distancing guidelines. De Blasio personally oversaw the dispersal of a Hasidic funeral in Williamsburg in April and weathered criticism over a tweet warning “the Jewish community, and all communities” to heed the virus.
Dr. Mitchell Katz, the head of the city’s public hospital system, said health officials are meeting with religious leaders in the hard-hit neighborhoods, making robocalls in English and Yiddish and sending sound trucks to flood the streets with messages about virus guidelines.
Katz said the city hopes to prevent gatherings such as wedding banquets in the communities that are seeing an uptick.
“Large indoor activities are a huge problem for COVID transmission,” he said.APNews to continue click here.
From Mother Jones
“In August, Kodak and the Trump administration ran into a scandal, when word leaked that the once-mighty film giant was in contention for a massive and unprecedented $765 million federal loan (to manufacture ingredients for prescription drugs) and its stock price soared, giving rise to speculation about insider shenanigans. Last week, Kodak released the results of a review conducted by the law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld that concluded Kodak and its top brass “did not violate the securities regulations or other relevant laws, engage in a breach of fiduciary duty, or violate any of Kodak’s internal policies and procedures.” House Democrats questioned the finding and why the Trump administration—via a little-known federal agency headed by a former roommate of Jared Kushner—would consider handing such a loan to Kodak. Moreover, the report failed to fully explain a curious aspect of the controversy: a gargantuan transfer of stock by board member (and billionaire) George Karfunkel to an Orthodox Jewish congregation in Brooklyn called Chemdas Yisroel that had practically no public profile but that he controlled as its president and chief financial officer.
In fact, Akin Gump’s investigation of the Karfunkel transaction seemed somewhat cursory, with the report suggesting the law firm didn’t do much more than ask Karfunkel about it. One House Democrat, who has tried to gather information on Karfunkel’s transfer of Kodak stock, noted recently that this move still “raises many questions.” “
To continue reading the story, click here.
OPINION – As Jews, we are confronted not only with divisions within the Jewish community but vastly differing viewpoints within sub-divisions of the different Jewish sects. We are confronted with bigotry and racism, anti-Semitism and hate, yet we ourselves are not really the shining example of tolerance and consideration, obedience and lawfulness.
The lip service paid by many Jewish organizations is really just that, a nod to other organizations hoping to conquer hate as a global problem. For most Jewish organizations, bigotry is a Jewish problem and anti-Semitism is rampant and of course, unjustified.
With that thought in mind and with Israel now reeling from a rapidly uncontrolled spread of Covid-19 within the ultra-Orthodox community, albeit hidden at the behest of many ultra-Orthodox rabbis instructing their followers to avoid reporting, who really speaks for worldwide Jewry? Shuls in the US and elsewhere will be packed with Jews for Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and the holidays that follow without any regard for the dangers presented by the lack of social distancing and mask-wearing. The spread from within the ultra-Orthodox communities will inevitably spread to the secular communities in Israel and elsewhere and with so many who traveled to Uman, despite warnings that they would not be granted entry due in large part to Covid-19, what is it that we want to be the face of Judaism?
Setting aside the humanitarian tragedy unfolding in Uman and the strife that tragedy has caused to international relations between Belarus and Ukraine, the ultra-Orthodox Jews that made that journey have, in their own unique way, put every Jew worldwide in danger. This entire affair has risked a worldwide increase in anti-Semitism that should be understood but requires careful damage control.
The photographs and videos of openly religious Jews tearing down gates in an airport speaks volumes to a selfish and harrowing lawlessness. The filth at the checkpoints due to a situation that was foreseeable speaks to an inability of the Jews there to manage the human context of their pilgrimage. And the entire notion of openly religious Jews being told not to travel in light of Covid-19 who disregarded, if not obliterated a reasonable request, reflects an inherent lack of consideration for the ramifications of that travel. It reflects a decision to choose ritual over religious virtue which is not Judaism.
When we consider the “public face of Judaism” it should not be that of the Pilgrims of Uman who attempted to enter the Ukraine after being told multiple times not to come. The face of world Jewry should not be Rabbi Kanievsky of Israel who has told his religious followers that it is all in G-d’s hands and yeshiva students should not be tested. G-d gave us brains, we should really be using them.
With the upcoming Jewish New Year, there are a lot of causes and charities worthy of attention. Covid-19 has all but obliterated businesses and communities and many of them need your help. As it happens, this blog needs it too.
The political climate has people of all faiths, political beliefs and persuasions asking themselves if they are not being gas-lighted. Websites critical of the behavior of Jews have been removed from Facebook and Twitter under the guise of racism, bigotry and anti-Semitism.
This site has been, since its inception, focused on providing an honest opinion of events and offering some perspective.
In the rare case we have gotten it wrong, used materials that we thought to have been reliable only to be told otherwise, we have been asked to correct and bar none, we have done so. We remain true to that.
Two years since Plaintiff filed a defamation case against me, I find myself still trudging away in a hamster wheel, trying to prove I am not another website and I DID NOT republish. And the courts are doing very little to shift the weight of that burden on the Plaintiff.
So, I ask you to donate to the lawsuit, a payment that goes directly to the lawyer. If that does not suit you, please donate to this site. That goes toward trying to bring information your way.
“Former senior officials from the Israeli defense sector attest that the Israeli government and the defense establishment either didn’t know about, or chose to ignore, the fact that for many years, Israeli companies had been doing business with other Persian Gulf states with whom Israel does not have diplomatic ties, and likely won’t have any in the future due to their alliances with enemy states like Iran, or an ideological affinity to it as it relates to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.Pini Meidan Shani (left) Yoav Mordechai, and Dror Mor. Photo: Yair Sagi, Amit Shaal
A legal dispute that erupted between three companies in July, some of its details being revealed here for the first time, exposes the involvement of Israelis— all former senior officials in Israel’s defense establishment— in providing physical and cyber protection for a major civilian infrastructure project with a Gulf state with whom Israel does not have diplomatic relations. The details of the affair were initially placed under an extensive gag order by the Tel Aviv District Court at the request of the involved companies. Following a petition by Calcalist, filed by Attorney Yaron Hanin from the Lieblich-Moser law firm, judge Hanna Plinner recently reduced the scope of the gag order so that only the name of the county and the project itself remain undisclosable.
The documents that were approved for publication expose serious allegations regarding an attempt to export proprietary offensive cyber capabilities without receiving the required permit from the Ministry of Defense. Though the claims were later denied by the parties, they reflect the dangerous side of the “business paradise” in the Persian Gulf, which may be used as a honey trap for the extraction of highly sensitive security capabilities from Israel.
OPINION – No Amount of Money is Going Incentivize a Morally Bankrupt and Profit Centric Nursing Home Owner/Operator/ Manager to Improve Care to Patients – More Oversight is Required
Whomever thought up the idea that shelling out MORE money to nursing homes, their owners, managers, wealthy entrepreneurs and magnates to reduce Covid-19 numbers doesn’t seem to understand the dynamics of the nursing home industry. In fact, that idea represents an utter and complete disregard for the entire history of the nursing home industry, the coining of money that occurs and the harrowing lack of oversight that lead to Covid-19 deaths.
It was not about a lack of funding for appropriate care. The deaths were caused by greed. The stockpiling of PPE (and respirators) so they could be traded or sold on a secondary market, represented greed.
The obscene amounts of money that has already been given to fabulously wealthy owners, operators and magnates in the form of PPP and EIDL loans has only allowed the wealthy to get wealthier. It has improved nothing else. And, you cannot buy a conscience with that money, which would be what is required to stop improve the quality of life of every individual currently residing in nursing homes and to prevent further death when Covid-19 ravages these homes again.
To many of the owners, operators and managers in for-profit care nursing and rehabilitation centers, a patient represents an equity interest in a financial gain, whether that gain is in the form of Medicare/Medicaid or private insurance, or in the form of a life insurance policy after a patient has died. Nursing care is not about improving the lives for human beings, the vulnerable and the most in need of care and compassion. It is not about preventing a spread of a deadly virus.
For every person who died from Covid-19, the owners, operators and magnates made money on life insurance policies where they didn’t on some other death benefit or healthcare payment. The owners, operators and managers are all but printing money in the basements of some of these homes, coining it. They DO NOT need more money. What they need is oversight.
For many of these nursing home owners, operators, managers and the equity interested individuals, providing additional access to money is like giving an opiate to an addict. You cannot instill in many of these individuals a sense of moral obligation to do right by their patients, clients and families. These people are not morally challenged they are morally bankrupt and the money only feeds into an ability to obtain more equity on human life and death.
ALBANY — Republican lawmakers launched a petition drive Wednesday in an effort to push for an investigation into the number of coronavirus deaths in New York State nursing homes.
The petition calls on Democratic leaders to get behind a bill that would spark an independent investigation examining how the state handled the surge in COVID-19 cases among the elderly and what can be done to prepare for a potential second wave of the virus.
“We’re launching this petition drive to harness the power of the citizenry to pressure the Majorities to bring forward bipartisan legislation for an independent investigation to subpoena the Health Department so we can provide a measure of closure to the loved ones of those who died and prevent this from happening again,” said sponsor New York Sen. Jim Tedisco (R-Glenville).
The state has reported more than 6,400 COVID-19 deaths at nursing homes across the state, but critics contend that the number could be significantly higher since the Cuomo administration does not include elder care residents who died in hospitals. Advertisement
Tedisco, Sen. Daphne Jordan (R-Halfmoon) and Assemblywoman Mary Beth Walsh (R-Ballston) said the bill would create an independent investigation that would have subpoena power and help the public learn the real numbers of New Yorkers who died from COVID-19 in state-regulated nursing homes.
Cuomo senior adviser Rich Azzopardi slammed the petition as a “political stunt” and said that it exposed a recently announced Department of Justice request for information about nursing home deaths as the same.”
To continue reading in the New York Daily News click here.
The situation in the demilitarized zone between Belarus and the Ukraine is a Humanitarian Crisis of the Breslovers’ Own Making and Should Not be Condoned
The mayor of Uman, clearly sympathetic to the reasons for the pilgrimage, had told the Breslovers and other Chassidim not to come to Uman as early as July of 2020.
“Every year about 30,000 pilgrims come to Uman to celebrate Rosh Hashanah,” the mayor said in a video posted online. “But this year, the coronavirus pandemic made adjustments to our life…. It’s a very difficult situation in the world and in Ukraine. In Uman, the situation is under control…. But the arrival of a large number of foreigners from different countries could cause a coronavirus outbreak in our town.”Hamodia, click here.
The Ukranian Government had announced a ban on Foreign travel to the Ukraine, also in July; but then agreed to restrict the pilgrimage at the request of the Prime Minister of Israel.
Ukraine said on Tuesday it would limit the number of Chassidim from Israel planning to enter the country for Rosh Hashanah after Israeli officials voiced fear that the event would be a coronavirus hotspot.
“At the request of the Prime Minister of Israel, a decision was made to significantly restrict the Hasidic pilgrimage to Uman to celebrate Rosh Hashanah,” President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s office said in a statement.
It did not say how many people would be allowed into Ukraine for the event or give any further details.Hamodia, click here
The Covid-19 crisis did not need to be exacerbated by the tens of thousands of Breslover Chasidic and others who make that pilgrimage every year; and sensibility should have dictated that the Chasidim from Antwerp (Belgium), Bnei Brak (Israel) the United States and elswhere rethink this yearly ritual. The entire pilgrimage represents a loyalty to a ritual and not to a religion.
There is nothing in Jewish law that requires this pilgrimage and nothing in the culture of the Breslovers that could not have been otherwise honored by remaining home.
But, many Breslovers came anyway, caring not for the health and safety of their own, of others who may come into contact with them or of those in Belarus and the Ukraine. Pikuach Nefesh (the sanctity of human life) be damned. Anti-Semitism is on the rise and we cannot really be asking ourselves why. Two countries are now being disrespected by our own and the world is bearing witness to the selfishness of the undertaking of the pilgrimage.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEMonday, September 14, 2020
Chicago Nursing Home Executives Charged With Operating Ponzi Scheme
CHICAGO — The owner of a chain of nursing homes and the company’s executive vice president have been charged with fraud for allegedly orchestrating a Ponzi scheme that raised millions of dollars from investors.
ZVI FEINER was the owner and Chief Executive Officer of Skokie-based FNR Healthcare LLC, and EREZ BAVER served as FNR’s Executive Vice President and bookkeeper. From 2012 to 2017, Feiner and Baver operated a fraud scheme involving the misappropriation of funds raised through the sale of membership interests in companies that Feiner created under the FNR umbrella to purchase and sell nursing homes and assisted living facilities, according to an indictment returned in U.S. District Court in Chicago. The indictment accuses Feiner and Baver of intentionally misleading investors about the financial condition of the companies in order to fraudulently raise funds.
In reality, the payments of returns to investors were funded through a Ponzi scheme, with Feiner and Baver paying early investors with money raised from later investors, the charges allege. Feiner and Baver also used investor funds for purposes unrelated to the purchase or acquisition of the healthcare facilities, including for Feiner’s and Baver’s own personal benefit, the indictment states.
The indictment seeks forfeiture from Feiner of $13.56 million, and from Baver of $3.76 million.
The indictment charges Feiner, 50, of Chicago, with ten counts of wire fraud, and Baver, 40, of Chicago, with one count of wire fraud. Feiner has pleaded not guilty to all counts. Arraignment for Baver is set for Sept. 16, 2020, at 10:00 a.m., before U.S. District Judge Martha M. Pacold.
The indictment was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and Emmerson Buie, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the FBI. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in Chicago provided valuable assistance. The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathryn Malizia.
Each count of wire fraud carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines. The public is reminded that an indictment is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
How Can This Happen?
The above is a small sampling of Joseph Schwartz’s nursing homes and the “star ratings” applied to them. Click the link beneath the image to learn more about each one.
We took a look at some of the homes with 5-star ratings (Highland Manor in Ilinois as an example) and found it a bit puzzling that there were no scores at all in a number of fairly significant areas. This rather curious result lends itself to the question regarding how accurate these scores really are and if they can be reliably reviewed for a family considering placing a family member in this facility.
Consider the following question:
How does the government grading system give a nursing home with 35 “substantiated” complaints (Asperian Care Oak Lawn) 4 stars? They were substantiated claims.
How is a nursing home with 35 “substantiated” complaints not fined, compelled to rectify the situation, compelled to provide some sort of justice to families? The complaints take up the span of 8 pages online. It is worth noting, however, that the complaints only run until February of 2016. It is unclear what has happened since and if this information is updated.
Regardless, why is the owner of a nursing home with 35 complaints allowed to open another nursing home? Again, to reiterate, this site may not have been updated to reflect improvements. The complaints run until 2016. But, then, where is the updated information available. Where is the oversight?
The chart posted above speaks for itself. It is a tiny example of the travesty. Yes… he has nursing homes with 5 starts; but if you can’t trust the 4-star rating system (given the complaints that seem to have been ignored) can you really trust the 5 stars?
A Chicago-area rabbi, who formerly owned a nursing home chain at the heart of the biggest default in the history of a federal mortgage-guarantee program, has been indicted by federal authorities on charges he bilked millions of dollars from investors.
The indictment against Zvi Feiner and a business partner, Erez Baver, is the latest chapter in the yearslong saga involving the Rosewood Care Centers chain of nursing homes, which are mainly in the Chicago suburbs.
The $146 million default in 2018 was the worst ever for a program that insures mortgages on roughly 15 percent of the nation’s nursing homes. In the aftermath, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which administers the mortgage guarantee program, tightened some of its underwriting and review processes.
The Rosewood chain — which has been renamed by the new owners — was part of a network of nursing homes that Mr. Feiner, 50, and Mr. Baver bought after raising money from investors in the Orthodox Jewish communities around Chicago and New York.Continue here: The New York Times
In 2016 we covered the Newsweek story about the Ultra-Orthodox community and the sexual abuse allegations against a Rabbi at one of the more prestigious schools, Oholei Torah of Brooklyn. At the time, it did not get much coverage beyond Newsweek which ran a comprehensive piece on multiple allegations against the rabbi featured in the story and Oholei Torah.
It should come as no surprise, these stories are tricky to write and the circulation of them gets shut down fairly quickly.
In a lawsuit by an anonymous Plaintiff who had the courage to finally seek justice, a Motion to Dismiss has been filed by Defendant claiming, among other things, that there were insufficient facts pleaded and that Oholai Torah did not have a duty to the Plaintiff such that negligence can be found.
We leave it to the reader to decide for yourself if you could possibly come to the conclusion that the Defendant seeks in its pleadings, namely that a school cannot have a duty of care inferred upon it.
We hope that the judge does not allow the Defendant off this easily. But in Kings County one never knows.
More importantly we ask this: is it plausible to consider that this will be the defense strategy of every institution, religious or otherwise, faced with accusations of failure to provide a safe learning institution such that sexual abuse could occur on its premises?
And, if that is the defense strategy, perhaps parents need to consider this when choosing the institutes of learning for their children. Perhaps parents need to demand contracts get signed in the private school setting wherein the school is paid privately and by virtue of that payment has a duty of care to its students.
BY ELIJAH WOLFSON ON 03/03/16 AT 6:12 AM EST
“Twelve-year-old Ozer Simon hadn’t grown up Hasidic, but after his parents divorced, his mom became a baal teshuva, a secular Jew who has “returned” to religious ways, and enrolled him at a yeshiva. He immediately fell behind because the other kids had been studying Hebrew since they were toddlers, so when Rabbi Joseph Reizes, a new teacher recently arrived from Brooklyn, offered to tutor the child, his mother jumped at the opportunity.
But when she asked Simon how his first lesson went, she could tell “something was really wrong.” Simon told her the rabbi hadn’t taught him anything; instead, he’d asked the boy to lie down and take a nap. When he did, the older man lay down on top of him. The next school day, Simon’s mother went to Rabbi Avrohom Korf, principal of the boy’s school, and told him what had happened. “I said to him, ‘If Reizes continues to teach here, I’m going to go to the newspaper. Or whatever it takes,'” she recalls. “The next thing I know, the guy is gone.”“
“When contacted by Newsweek, the child whose parents brought the complaint to the school in 1996 didn’t want to speak about it publicly, but other students from that class say Reizes long had a reputation for inappropriate behavior. Bibi Morozow, 31 years old and now living in Florida, says a relative was molested by Reizes while attending Oholei Torah in the 1990s. (When reached by Newsweek on the phone, the relative declined to be interviewed.) “Reizes was always touchy; he’d put kids in his lap,” says one student who asked to remain anonymous because he feared being shunned by his community.“
“Oholei Torah conducts its seven-plus daily hours of religious lessons mostly in Yiddish. According to more than a dozen former students across three decades, it provides almost no lessons in science, math, English grammar or history. (The school did not respond to queries about its curriculum.) Many of these students go home to an apartment with no television, no Internet, no newspapers and no books except religious texts. Many will not gain the basic knowledge of how to navigate the world until they are married off around age 18, like how to write a check, how to order General Tso’s chicken or even what sex is. When you’re a child in this environment, you don’t question the fact that you can’t identify your own state on a map. And when you are molested, you don’t ask questions about that either.“
A health care lobby group hired Trump’s former lawyer and gave millions to Democrats — now criminal nursing home and hospital execs may get special protections from COVID lawsuits.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday released new legislation that would make New York governor Andrew Cuomo’s corporate immunity statute the law of the land in every state in America — the second time in two months that Senate Republicans have spliced Cuomo’s controversial provision into their proposed coronavirus response legislation.
The GOP’s inclusion of a special liability shield for health care industry executives represents a victory for the powerful New York lobby group that has been paying Donald Trump’s former lawyer to directly lobby the White House on its behalf — and that has been been funneling millions of dollars to congressional Democrats during the COVID-19 outbreak, according to federal records reviewed by Too Much Information (TMI).
In April, the Greater New York Hospital Association (GNYHA) drafted the original provision shielding health care industry officials from COVID-related lawsuits, and pushed it through the New York legislature with the support of Cuomo, whose political machine received more than $1 million from the group. Opponents charged that the law repealed a critical deterrent to corporate misbehavior and effectively rewarded executives at nursing homes where thousands of elderly residents were killed by the coronavirus.
Under pressure, New York lawmakers subsequently limited the scope of the liability shield in their state. However, GNYHA’s president last month told state legislators that his organization was pushing a national version of the legislation in Washington, where it has spent $1.2 million on lobbying this year.
In July, the Senate GOP included the same health care executive immunity language in their broader COVID-related stimulus proposal. McConnell’s new legislation shows that GNYHA’s sustained lobbying campaign has continued to pay off: The Republican leader copy and pasted the New York law into the so-called “skinny” coronavirus relief legislation his office released yesterday.
Bill Reflects Push From Trump as GNYHA Employs Trump’s Former Lawyer
cConnell’s new legislation reflects the Trump administration’s push for a liability shield at the same time that GNYHA has hired Trump’s former lawyer and prolific GOP fundraiser Albert Pirro Jr as a Washington lobbyist.
Pirro is a long-time personal friend of the president — their relationship began thirty years ago when Trump hired him as a real estate attorney. He is the ex-husband of Fox News’ Judge Jeanine Pirro and was once sentenced to twenty-nine months in federal prison for tax offenses.
Federal records show Albert Pirro has been directly lobbying the executive office of the president and other White House offices on behalf of GNYHA. The records say he has been lobbying on Medicare issues and do not say he has been lobbying on the corporate immunity issue.
Pirro has only been filing disclosures as a Washington lobbyist since 2017, when Trump became president. GNYHA — which is one of only three Pirro lobbying clients in Washington — has paid Pirro’s firm nearly $2.3 million since hiring him in 2017.
The New York Times recently reported that a number of nursing home companies, some of which have seen spikes in deaths due to COVID-19 along with allegations of mismanagement, have been recruiting Trump allies to lobby on their behalf in DC to secure relief funding, tax breaks, and a liability shield.
To continue reading click here.
HOW IS IT POSSIBLE THAT NURSING HOME OWNERS AND MANAGERS ARE COLLECTING ON NEWLY PLACED LIFE INSURANCE POLICIES FOR THEIR PATIENTS WHO ARE ALREADY DEAD? WHERE IS THE INSURANCE COMMISSION ON THIS?
In the lawsuit against Louis Schwartz and his partner Chaim “Mutty” Scheinbaum and others, Paragraph 76 alleges:
“Defendants have also engaged in unconscionable consumer practices by intentionally suppressing or delaying the reporting of resident deaths to relevant authorities, family members, authorized representative and/or life insurance companies, intentionally withholding and refusing to disclose the vital information to family members and other authorized representatives, and concealing bodies of recently deceased residents, with the intent that said third parties, including the members of the Class and Plaintiff, rely upon their deceptive and misleading conduct in connection with the promotion of the Facilities’ services.“
As a point of full disclosure, if Schwartz and Scheinbaum were not storing bodies without reporting deaths; and if they were the beneficiaries of life insurance policies taken out on living patients, they were acting within legal parameters. This is industry standard.
It is our opinion, and the point of the article that follows, that we believe that the long-term care industry needs to be changed. There needs to be oversight. Families need guarantees that the last days, weeks months, years of the life of their loved ones will include some quality of life, humanity, decency and dignity. Covid-19, and every other failure in the nursing home industry should not be an excuse to rob people of their humanity.
This is not the first time we have heard about nursing homes and rehabilitation centers and the trafficking in human life with the prized death benefits waiting at the end of the rainbow. Death benefits are touted as an obviously cost-effective way to provide for long term care. We believe that should change.
Have the experts in the field of elder-care really considered the implications?
A fictitious applicant for life insurance versus the Nursing and Rehabilitation Resident:
In the State of New York, for example, a 45 year-old athletic and fit person goes through an arduous process to obtain life insurance including, but not limited to, medical screenings, blood tests, drug tests, urine tests, signing every manner of HIPAA regulated waiver and allowing insurance companies to delve excruciatingly deeply into past and present, including but not limited to history of family and relatives, including all manner of questions, excluding the style of underwear he or she wears and quality of sex life. That run-on sentence was intended and should be read out loud in a single breath.
And even those last two questions might at this juncture seem unsurprising for underwriters to ask. This fictitious person is a non-risk. He or she exercises regularly. He or she eats healthy. He or she is employed and married and has a family history of longevity.
WILL THE SCHWARTZ EMPIRE FINALLY BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR THE UNTHINKABLE TRAGEDY AND LOSS OF HUMAN LIFE? WILL THE RINGMASTERS FINALLY HAVE TO SHUT DOWN THEIR MANY-RING CIRCUS?
Today, September 8, 2020, CNN reported on the lawsuit filed against Louis Schwartz, son of Joseph Schwartz and his partner Chaim “Mutty” Scheinbaum and a number of other defendants for the deaths that occurred in the Andover Subacute Rehabilitation Center.
Allegedly New Jersey’s Attorney General Gurbir Grewal is investigating the deaths at the facility. We have our doubts on that investigation as it negates the possibility that New Jersey’s Governor Murphy will not impose what we have referred to as the “Granny Killer Immunity Provisions” on any Covid-19 related deaths at the home, thereby negating any accountability.
But the lawsuit against the Andover facility and its owners is not based upon Covid-19. It is based upon Andover’s sales pitch and how it allegedly is misleading.
The nephew of a man who died during the height of the coronavirus pandemic in New Jersey is suing the nursing home where his uncle was a resident, alleging that the facility failed to provide the legally required level of care while fraudulently claiming to do so.
The nursing home, Andover Subacute Rehabilitation Center II in Lafayette Township, New Jersey, is the same facility where authorities found 17 bodies in April in a morgue meant for four. New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal is continuing to investigate Covid-19-related deaths at the facility.https://www.cnn.com/2020/09/08/us/new-jersey-nursing-home-covid-death-suit/index.html
Setting the Stage:
Joseph and Louis Schwartz, a father and son team, own a litany of nursing care facilities. Joseph Schwartz was the owner “extraordinaire” of an empire of failed nursing homes, widely covered during the summer of 2019, the Skyline nursing homes.
The most comprehensive article at the time was published by ABC News and entitled: A nursing home chain grows too fast and collapses, and elderly and disabled residents pay the price (https://www.nbcnews.com/health/aging/nursing-home-chain-grows-too-fast-collapses-elderly-disabled-residents-n1025381 )
One would have thought that the demise and devastation he created woud have resulted in strict oversight, that Joseph Schwartz would have been compelled to divest himself of any ownership. But, that is not what happened. Instead, his son took the reins and that ownership is really just an alter-ego for his own name on the facilities. They are, after all, a team.
The 100 plus facilities that in large part failed, thereby ravaging the lives of the elderly in whose care the Schwartz’s were entrusted, should have made both Schwartzs ineligible to continue holding any stake in these homes. For the families of those who died or were displaced, that would have been the right result. But, well… no. That’s not how these thing work.
The Wood Ridge, N.J.-based Skyline at its height owned or operated more than 100 skilled nursing facilities in 11 states, overseeing the care of more than 7,000 seniors, NBC reported. But the chain began to fall apart in the spring of last year, starting with the state of Nebraska, which had to appoint a third-party receiver after Skyline’s owners failed to make payroll. The state of Kansas followed suit soon after, and some weeks later, the company fell apart in South Dakota and in Pennsylvania. (New Investigation Puts Skyline Healthcare Back in the Spotlight) From Skilled Nursing News(https://skillednursingnews.com/2019/07/new-investigation-puts-skyline-
Ownership as a Flexible and Nebulous Term: Continue reading
The Broken New York Guardianship System and the Deplorable Condition of Many US Nursing Homes, Covid-19 – a Ticking Time Bomb
DISCLOSURE STATEMENT – The below is an opinion of the author based upon an analysis of New York’s system of nursing and rehabilitative care and its guardianship system. To be sure, there are good nursing and rehabilitation centers in New York. They are hard to find.
The below Opinion piece is a warning to those looking for care for your family members to do your research. Do not rely on the words of social workers and those within the system currently in place.
Read reviews. Don’t trust any review that starts with one or two stars.
Check the finances and the ownership structure. Please contact the website for a copy of NYS’s ownership structure. Check the financial contributions paid by the owners and to whom they were paid. Don’t entrust your family member in the hands of someone about whom you are not sure. Don’t get trapped into going against your gut instinct.
Be mindful and be fearful of guardianship and trust no one with a financial stake in the system.
The untold story of horrors within many of the nursing and rehabilitation care centers in the United States, New York in particular, is that of New York’s guardianship system. Under New York’s guardianship laws, specifically Mental Hygiene Law Section 81, a guardian can be appointed for nearly anyone, regardless of mental state (though jurists will tell you otherwise). The laws are drafted with loopholes and there is little if any legal oversight. While the intent of New York’s guardianship laws may have rested with trying to provide assistance to those who are mentally unable to care for themselves, as currently administered, they exemplify the robbery of basic human freedoms.
Coupled with New York’s civil procedure law section CPLR 406, the process of obtaining guardianship can be rushed, thereby sidestepping any family members who might act as guardian on the off chance that one is necessary. And many times, a guardian is not necessary. More often then not, the person being whisked off to nursing and rehabilitative care under the guardianship system is of right mind and does not need a guardian. Nor does that person want one.
Section 81, most notably allows nursing and rehabilitation facilities to obtain guardianship appointments over their patients. This guardianship encompasses legal, medical and financial guardianship. On the most basic level, this includes Social Security and disability payments, medical care decisions, healthcare proxy and living will arrangements and even post-death decisions. All of a persons assets get turned over to the guardian as does the control of those assets.
In the nursing and rehabilitation guardianship context, consider how very dangerous this is. As an example, a diabetic woman has kidney malfunction which can easily be remedied with insulin treatments at the appropriate levels. But this treatment does not afford a significant reimbursement for the facility, particularly if the facility in question is a dialysis provider. So, rather than afford this woman medical care as needed in the least restrictive means, the facility waits until the woman’s kidneys fail. Instead of insulin, she now requires dialysis, for which the facility is paid by Medicare/Medicaid subsidies 10 or 20 times what the facility would get paid for appropriately monitored insulin treatments. Meanwhile, the woman requests the insulin treatment in accordance with her pre-hostage care regimen and it is denied.
So, she proceeds to complain to the Medicare/Medicaid complaint board. But, the same people sitting on the oversight boards of Medicare and Medicaid and their contracted review-board providers are the owners of the facilities or the lawyers representing them. And what of the woman’s complaint if the same people overseeing her guardians are either her guardians or their agents.
She is, indeed, a cash cow.
(JTA) — (Washington Jewish Week via JTA) — Federal and international law enforcement agencies are investigating the theft of $7.5 million from the United Jewish Endowment Fund, an arm of The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, and diverted to international accounts.
The theft was discovered on Aug. 4, but made known to the federation’s board on Wednesday after federal law enforcement lifted a blackout on the information, federation CEO Gil Preuss said.
Preuss said the funds were taken from a single organization’s fund managed by the United Jewish Endowment Fund. The endowment’s donor-advised funds and the federation’s own endowment were not touched, he said, nor were other organizational funds managed by the United Jewish Endowment Fund.
Preuss, federation President Mark Levitt and Deborah Ratner Salzberg, president of the United Jewish Endowment Fund, reiterated that message in an email to the federation’s board on Wednesday.
“We want to assure you that from our internal investigation to date, no donor information, no other agency funds or individual donor advised funds invested through the United Jewish Endowment Fund and no Annual Campaign or COVID-19 emergency funds of The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington were compromised,” it read.
“They weren’t going after personal information,” Preuss said. “They were going after dollars directly.”
Asked if there was evidence that the hacking was a hate crime, Preuss would not speculate.
He said he doesn’t believe “there was anyone internal to our organizations” who is a suspect. “We believe it’s an outside party.”
Since the coronavirus outbreak, federation staff has been working from home, often on personal computers, creating vulnerabilities that hackers may have taken advantage of, Preuss said.
Following the theft’s discovery, “nobody is working from home computers anymore,” he said. “Passwords have been changed.”
On Aug. 4, the email account of a federation employee was discovered to have been hacked. At that point, the extent of the hack was not known, Preuss said.
By the next day, he said, it was clear that the break-in allowed the hackers to steal the money.
The federation is working with insurers to help cover the loss.
“We are hoping, through legal counsel, that we will get most of the money back through insurance,” Preuss said.
He said the stolen $7.5 million “will not affect our budget and allocations.”
“We don’t expect it to have any impact on that side,” Preuss said.
In their letter, Preuss, Levitt and Salzberg sought to reassure the board of the measures they had taken to respond to the theft and prevent another.
“Working with a team of top legal and cybersecurity experts to contain the impact and fully investigate this theft,” they wrote. “We retained Baruch Weiss and Bob Winter of Arnold and Porter who are helping us pro bono to work with law enforcement, as well as our insurers, and to advise us more generally. Arnold and Porter’s pro bono policy is that they treat the job as if it is from their top client and they are getting paid. This work is in excellent hands.”
To continue reading, click here.
UPDATED OPINION: 13:48, 17:35
There was Something Wrong with the Whole Menachem Stark Murder Story… from Day One
In 2014 Menachem Stark, a member of the tightly knit and wholly insular Satmar community was murdered. Stark was a wealthy landlord and alleged slumlord who was kidnapped, suffocated and then brutally burned. At the time of his disappearance and the subsequent finding of his body miles away in January of 2014, news articles reported that he was a “mixed” bag when it came to what people thought of him. In some articles he was referred to as “notorious” in others “affable.” He had tenants complaining of atrocious living conditions and unreasonable rent demands with little recourse absent expensive litigation. In stark contrast, there were tenants who referred to him as kind and reasonable.
Those within his inner circle sometimes referred to him as a “mensche.” One of the articles that came out at the time of his death, on January 11, 2014, gave a fairly well rounded picture of Menachem Stark, a/k/a Max, while the police were still trying to compile a clearer picture of his death.
What seems to be a common thread in all of the news stories at the time was that apparently, he was very loyal to those he trusted and very generous with employees who he felt protected his interests. In a lot of ways he was a paradox to those of us following the stories. At least one of the men accused of having killed him was one of the people who commented on his loyalty as a boss, his menchekeit. Seems odd that such an employee would then kill his boss over $25,000.00, a figure offered in some of the initial stories.
At the time Menachem Stark was murdered, he had a wide assortment of business partners, with many of his businesses shared by a single or a few different groups of partners. The properties he held were worth tens of millions if not hundreds of millions of dollars. At least some of those properties contained clauses in their LLC Agreements that gave the rights to the property in the event of the death of any of the “unit holders” to the other holders. In other words, when he died, at least some of his properties passed directly to his partners. Others had been the source of litigation including “lis pendens” proceedings, which were notices of dispute of ownership, as reported in articles from 2014.
It was early evening, late July. Sean Thielen-Esparza, a project manager for a tech company, was on a work call in the bedroom of his Bushwick apartment when he heard someone banging on the door. The apartment is railroad style, and his room has its own entrance into the hall.
“No one knocks on that door, so I knew something was up immediately,” Thielen-Esparza recalled. “I had to tell the person on that call, ‘There’s something up and I need to go.’”
The rent was due, and all but one of the apartments in the building had stopped paying that month. The banging continued.
Men’s voices came through the door. Thielen-Esparza: “The words they used are, ‘We need to discuss the rent payment.’”
Bang, bang, bang.
“’Discuss the rent payment.’”
Bang, bang, bang.
Through the peephole, Thielen-Esparza saw two guys in T-shirts, strangers.
“I remember they were tall enough,” he said, ”where I was aware of the fact that if anything were to happen like a physical confrontation, I would not be able to defend myself against both of them.”
This went on for 10 minutes. Thielen-Esparza said nothing, instead checking in with his neighbors over email. They’d all gotten knocks. And when no one opened up, some of the visitors gathered outside. Peeking out their windows, tenants saw their landlord, a teenage boy (more on that later), standing there with another man, on the phone.
The building’s residents started getting calls and texts from a strange number. It was about the rent. The men lingered on the sidewalk. Thielen-Esparza had an acupuncture appointment that evening. He canceled it.
After the Miami Springs nursing home Fair Havens Center locked down in March, Maria Garcia would still drive 50 miles a day round trip to talk to her esposo through a window.
COVID-19 was sweeping through the nation, and Maria was worried. But her husband, Jose Garcia, better known as “Cheo,” was fine as far as she could tell. Cheo was a jokester and would play tricks on her, like pretending to be asleep, to lighten the mood.
Then in late April, a private laboratory tested all the residents. The day the results came back, the nursing home reported 86 new positive cases. By the end of August, COVID-19 had claimed 52 residents.
Cheo, 78, was among them, his death dropping the curtain on more than 50 years of marriage to Maria.
What happened at Fair Havens seemed sudden and shocking to family members on the outside. But confidential data viewed by the Miami Herald, May inspection reports and interviews with several staffers shed considerable light on the events that took place behind the facility’s closed doors, leading it to have the second-highest virus death toll in Florida.
NEW YORK (JTA) – If New York City’s mayor won’t stop weddings in Brooklyn’s Hasidic neighborhoods from happening, the state’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, said Wednesday that he will.
“If the mayor is not doing any enforcement actions, then the state will,” Cuomo said at a news conference, according to the New York Post.
“We’ve had superspreader events in New Rochelle with the Jewish community, we’ve had them in the Catholic community. The virus does not discriminate by religious or racial lines, right? This is an equal-opportunity situation. So we police it in every circumstance.”
The governor’s comments come after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced 16 new cases last week in Borough Park, home to the city’s largest Hasidic population, with several connected to a large wedding. The New York Post also reported Wednesday that several wedding halls in Borough Park continue to host large Orthodox weddings, despite the bans on gatherings of more than 50 people, with people entering through side doors and with windows covered with paper.
Large weddings have resumed in several Orthodox communities, with some contributing to rising case numbers in a number of Orthodox hubs. The rising case numbers led several branches of Hatzalah, the Jewish ambulance corps, to issue warnings after it saw an increase in calls from people reporting COVID-like symptoms. The new cases threaten to keep schools from reopening for the fall, as well as the in-person High Holiday services being planned in several Orthodox communities.
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THE DETERIORATION OF THE HEALTH OF OUR ELDERLY AND THE FAILURES OF U.S. NURSING HOMES AND THE OVERSIGHT THAT SHOULD BE PROTECTING OUR AGED…
PAYOFFS, KICK-BACKS AND FRAUD
As many of you know, the blogger behind most of the stories on these pages is, in my career life, an attorney. I focus on finance, investments, securities, transactional work and legal fraud/due diligence.
The reason for my anonymity had always been because I did not want these stories to gain or lose credibility on the basis of the numerous well-studied and earned letters I could put after my name. The takeaway of this blog’s readership should have come from someone nameless and faceless, not my personal schooling. While anonymity also served to keep me safe from those who know I am holding a deck of information, it was not a grand deception, as many might think. It simply provided objectivity.
However, the nursing home story is different. It is very personal. The substandard care and the lack of oversight in US nursing homes is one of the major reasons why this blog got started, beyond the fraud components; and, at the end of the day, it is heartbreaking, breathtaking in scope and ingrained in our entire medical care system.
Nursing home facilities – a term I will use going forward, refers to rehabilitation centers, step-down facilities, sub-acute facilities, traditional long-term nursing care, assisted living and the entire umbrella of facilities geared toward sick or elderly patients who will either never recover from their ailments or who need these facilities on their way back to recovery.
In my life as an attorney and fraud analyst, I am good at what I do. I see everything in patterns. And, when people commit frauds, they don’t change up their methodology; their patterns are always the same.
Most fraudsters don’t have the personal capacity to conduct themselves differently. When something works, why change it up? I have conducted hundreds, if not thousands of investigations and sometimes I am not quite sure what’s wrong with what I am seeing; but I know it is bent, out of place, mismatched. And generally, history tells me everything else I need to know to fill in the blanks.
Fraudsters, morally challenged people, humanity’s ingrates take a theme and commit the same variation built on that theme over and over again. It is an addiction and there is no cure. And, in my experience, people don’t change. If someone cheated on his SEC Series 7 or 63 exam, for example, he will cheat on everything that follows. There will be no future for honest deal-making. The first lie is hard to tell. After that, it’s a matter of following the same action to the next level.
The most egregious Nursing home facility owners are the same. Once they discount the humanity of the patients in their care, once ownership becomes a game of finance and not human life, the rest comes easily. It is like playing a game of Monopoly. The nameless and faceless patients are just that, squares on a board game. The patients in these facilities are no more than Boardwalk or Park Place or another of the many colored properties that can be bought off the board in the quest for huge financial gains, for owning the bank.
The fact that the moral imperative is to provide quality care for people who have lived much of their lives and are thus nearing their end is largely irrelevant. Nursing home ownership is about the profit. And, the steps toward profit bar no unacceptable crime. Medicare/Medicaid fraud, Insurance policies and payouts on death benefits, Covid-19 Neglect, Abuse, under-staffing, Government subsidies that are manipulated and misused, charges never provided are all in the rules of play. Humanity? It just doesn’t matter. The bottom line is profit.
Exclusive Orthodox Jewish Housing and the Opposition to It, Segregation, Elitism and Exceptionalism
UK and Elsewhere…
Experientially, to openly oppose housing that is exclusively designed for the “unique needs of orthodox Jews” is equated with being a racist, self-hating Jew, anti-Semite. Pick your poison, it likely applies or has already been said. But if each ethnic group in the US decided it wanted it’s own housing establishment to accord with its “unique needs”, the Constitutional implications would be staggering.
There is nothing unique to religious Judaism except a desire to remain secluded, with the single exception of the Eiruv – also a point of contention in many areas of the world but one that is easily rectifiable without need for segregated housing.
In the US if any other race, religion or culture demanded segregated housing one would slide down a remarkably slippery slope of institutionalized segregationist policy. Yet, somehow Jews are protected from the absurdity of it all, held above the fray. And with that, any criticism of the demands of ultra-Orthodox Jews and their unfettered and irresponsible building is frowned upon. Imprudence, misapplied zoning, payoffs, kickbacks and an imperialistic exceptionalism is oddly acceptable, if not supported by large Jewish organizations. Somehow, in the US (and apparently in the United Kingdom), the balance between a fear of being called an anti-Semite, and a notion of fairness tips in favor of fear, fairness be damned. There are no such “unique needs” of Judaism that could not be extended to every race, religion and culture. And there we are, again, sliding down that slippery slope.
Brooklyn’s Borough Park neighborhood is experiencing an “uptick” in COVID-19 cases that’s mostly been linked to a large-scale wedding, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday.
“We’ve seen an uptick just in the last few days,” de Blasio told reporters during his daily City Hall press briefing, explaining that there were 16 new coronavirus cases in the area.
Hizzoner called the new cases an “early warning sign,” as he noted that “some” are “linked to a recent wedding — a large wedding, in fact, in the community.”
Currently in New York, only social gatherings of up to 50 people are permitted and de Blasio said the wedding in question “was substantially more than that — and that’s just not allowed.”
It was not immediately clear where exactly the wedding was held or whether anyone has been punished.
De Blasio said the city’s Test and Trace Corps is following up with attendees to get them tested and that the city is “working immediately to galvanize community leaders.”
“We need to avoid those large gatherings that can cause a bigger problem,” said de Blasio, adding that the city’s Health Department will start doubling down on catering halls across the Big Apple “to let them know those standards must be kept.”
A Jewish gold dealer, jailed after giving cash to crooks for stolen jewellery, has been delivered the ultimate punishment — missing his son’s bar mitzvah — by a judge keen to denounced his “extremely shameful behaviour”.
A Jewish gold dealer outed as a fraudster who gave cash to crooks for stolen jewellery has been delivered the ultimate punishment of missing his son’s bar mitzvah.
County Court Judge Scott Johns said Chey Tenenboim must be denounced for his greedy actions, jailing him for 12 months.
The Caulfield North father of four had earlier begged the judge to impose a sentence that would see him free for the coming of age ritual for his son’s 13th birthday in November.
But with only 32 days of time already served, Tenenboim will spend the important milestone behind bars.
Judge Johns said Tenenboim had “no moral compass” when he paid $144,638 to armed robbers and junkies for stolen jewellery — much of which would have been “priceless” or have sentimental value to its owners.
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A Melbourne gold dealer jailed for melting down gold and jewellery says he feels great shame at his crimes being exposed.
Chey Tenenboim should have felt that shame when he was destroying the precious stolen items, the Victorian judge who jailed him on Wednesday says.
A Melbourne man has been jailed for his involvement in a stolen-gold trading scheme run by two jet-setting Colombian playboys.
Chey Tenenboim, 39, appeared in the County Court via video-link from prison on Wednesday and was sentenced to a year in jail after he bought stolen jewellery that was to be melted and resold as bullion.
In a deal with prosecutors, Tenenboim pleaded guilty in June to a single charge of receiving stolen goods that included 42 instances of buying looted valuables. Under the plea deal, he admitted paying $144,638 for the stolen gold.
County Court judge Scott Johns said Tenenboim was motivated by greed and a belief that his offending would not be exposed.
“You thought you could do it without getting caught so you did,” Judge Johns said.
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A Colombian-born jetsetting gold buyer has been told to prepare for jail after he paid cash for jewellery and valuables that he knew were stolen.
Alejandro Mendieta Blanco, his older brother and another man ran a sophisticated gold-buying scheme where they paid cash for jewellery, watches and other items they knew were stolen and kept the transactions off the books of their legitimate business, Gold Buyers Melbourne.
The three men were initially charged with hundreds of offences but the cases were whittled down in a plea deal with prosecutors to a single charge each of receiving stolen goods.
Under the deal, Mendieta Blanco admitted in the County Court to buying $29,000 worth of jewellery in 2017, his brother Julio has pleaded guilty to buying $45,000 worth of jewellery and their employee, Chey Tenenboim, admitted paying out $144,638 for stolen goods.Advertisement
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IS CHABAD IN THE BUSINESS OF TRAFFICKING DRUGS?
THIS IS NOT THE FIRST TIME CHABAD’S EMISSARIES AND RESPECTED RABBIS HAVE HAD COLLATERAL DRUG CHARGES ASSOCIATED WITH MONEY LAUNDERING CHARGES!
WHEN WILL CHABAD FINALLY SPEAK TO THESE ALLEGATIONS?
The following is a copy of a letter that relates to the arrest of Rabbi Zalman Zirkind (on money laundering charges) and a number of other defendants, including his own family members. The news articles and charges against the Zirkind clan suggest that this family has a history of inappropriate financial dealings and that these charges may be directly connected to a larger drug trade.
We have highlighted the section of the letter that could lead one to conclude that Zirkind was actively involved involved in the heroin trade. If we are wrong here, this will be corrected.
Chabad’s Lubavitch’s sordid involvement in money laundering, whether directly or collaterally, as well as in matters of drug trafficking (again perhaps indirectly) is not new. There are a number of cases both in the US and in Israel related to these allegations.
We suggest, that Chabad needs to get involved and either publicly separate itself or acknowledge the illegalities occurring within its organization. The dirty money obtained from money laundering and drug trafficking is presumably being used to help fund Chabad, whether they were aware of it or not. And, if not, the money should be surrendered or returned.
We had considered providing “Excerpts” of the following Newsday article which digs deeply into Cold Spring Hills and its owners.
The article is comprehensive and it is long.
We will not excerpt it but ask that you read it, or at least skim through it. You will find much of what we have written about covered in the pages of that article, in the video accounts and in the quotes.
We urge you to read this, to share it, and to remain informed on what it means to place a loved one in a nursing care facility. Do your research. Consider carefully. Do not take the social workers’ advice at first glance. Do not let Medicare be the defining factor, even if it means being farther from home.
We believe that the problem with nursing care in the United States, without exception, rests with the money to be made by for-profit nursing facilities. Nursing care should be public, in our view. It should have a standard of oversight conducted by committed people which is uniform throughout all states and which demands that nursing homes meet a set of standards. Profit should be be the end-run goal. Nursing care should be made available to anyone who needs it and caring for our elderly should be something this country strives to do, with a conscience.
Nursing care is a huge money business and has tremendous consequences. When families are trying to determine where to put their loved ones, they do not always know where to look. Do your research.
To be profitable, for-profit nursing homes must fill beds, which at times means filling beds at human cost. We repeat, do your research. Read the article. We have provided a link.
Behind the deaths at the island’s second largest nursing home
What You Can’t Find in the English Press Shows Up in the Chinese Language Press – Kodak’s Substantially Increased Lobbying Costs, Obscure Yeshiva Donations and “A Basket of Strange Things”….
Note to reader:
The original piece is written in the Chinese Language Press. We used “Google Translate” for the English and do not vouchsafe the accuracy of Google’s translation system. It is fairly consistent, however, with accounts in the English speaking press of the various questionable events that occurred with Kodak and its share price. There is little in this article that is irrelevant. The issue of substantially increased lobbying costs paid by Eastman Kodak has not been the subject of mainstream press but this piece has picked up on that point.
Hopefully some courageous journalist will take it from here.
To find the Chinese Version of the article, click here.
Lobbying Fees Have Increased Sharply, High-level Donations of Stocks – There is a Basket of Strange Things Behind Kodak’s Skyrocketing
除此以外，《CNN》報導，柯達董事George Karfunkel在29日股價飆上頂點當天，捐贈給1間註冊名為Congregation Chemdas Yisroel、由他本人擔任會長的正統派猶太會堂300萬股股票，這些股票當時價值一度超過1億美元，由於在註冊地紐約州，宗教團體屬慈善機構，因此George Karfunkel的捐贈能有減稅的效果。
[Financial Channel/Comprehensive Report]
After the stock price of Eastman Kodak soared due to the government financing news on the production of scientific-name drugs on July 28, various questions also followed. For example, on the 27th, when there was no news, The stock price soared 24%, the CEO received 1.75 million stock options, and it is now reported that Kodak’s lobbying costs have increased sharply this year, and that on the day the stock price soared, high-level donations to charities run by themselves, suspected of tax avoidance, etc. All kinds of suspicious things. “Reuters” reported that after spending less than US$5,000 in lobbying fees in the first quarter of 2019, Kodak has never spent any money to lobby the US government. However, between April and June this year, Kodak suddenly spent US$870,000 in lobbying fees. The suspicion of “inside trading” has continued to increase; Kodak emphasized to Reuters that the large increase in lobbying fees is due to, like many companies, seeking opportunities to help each other with the government during the epidemic. In addition, CNN reported that on the day when the stock price soared on the 29th, Kodak director George Karfunkel donated 3 million shares of an orthodox synagogue registered as Congregation Chemdas Yisroel and chaired by him. These shares At that time, the value was more than 100 million U.S. dollars. Since religious organizations are charities in New York State where they are registered, George Karfunkel’s donations can have a tax cut effect.
監督及提供慈善機構訊息的非營利組織CharityWatch執董Laurie Styron表示，George Karfunkel的捐贈值得關注，因為他可能透過柯達董事身分，而對股票有些「特別知道」的事情，理論上，慈善機構會有機制防止不正當的避稅行為，但是George Karfunkel是該組織的會長，而柯達董事會對他捐贈行為的審核及批准是否獨立進行也不清楚。
Laurie Styron, executive director of Charity Watch, a non-profit organization that oversees and provides information on charities, said that George Karfunkel’s donation is worthy of attention, because he may be a director of Kodak and has some “special knowledge” about stocks. In theory, charities will have The mechanism to prevent improper tax avoidance, but George Karfunkel is the chairman of the organization, and it is unclear whether the review and approval of his donation by the Kodak board of directors is independent.
Money Laundering Allegations, No Intent to Go To Trial, Nothing from Chabad, and Accountability?
We find it harrowing that in the face of allegations of one of their own, a Rabbi who is well-respected, well versed and generally accomplished as a leader, Chabad has said nothing.
There have been no words of condemnation.
There has been no measure of apologies (for the victims).
There has been dead silence.
And, with Rabbi Zirkind having stated through counsel that he has no intention of taking this to trial, are we to assume that perhaps he is going to offer a plea? And, will that plea include implicating his family members, at least one of which was actively involved in allegations of drug trafficking several years ago?
Is it not about time that a committed Jew share a commitment to civil law and practice? Is it not so much to ask that the leaders of respectable Jewish communities actually act respectably?
If one is to wear the title “Rabbi” with the level of grace of that of Rabbi Zirkind, should he not be an exemplar for a community which is so lacking in respect for civil laws?
We hope, Rabbi Zalman Zirkind, that it is your intention to do the right and honorable thing even if it means reporting on those within your community, whether in New York or in Canada. Complacence is complicity.
THE REQUEST WAS ASTOUNDING, THE RESPONSE REASONABLE – ACCUSATIONS OF MONEY LAUNDERING AND CHABAD AND STILL… CRICKETS
On August 13, 2020 Rabbi Zalman Zirkind was granted his request for Friday night and Saturday prayer at a single synagogue in Brooklyn. He was denied the remainder of the request which included prayer and mikvah in multiple locations. The very fact that he was remanded to the custody of family should have been viewed as blessing enough, but no further comment on that is needed.
To the extent the initial request commented in depth on Rabbi Zirkind’s religious commitment, we cannot emphasize enough the hypocrisy. When one claims to be a righteous and pious religious leader, that person should be leading not only by words and rituals but by example. A pillar of one’s society should be setting an example that others aspire to follow.
If the congregants in Canada are following the Zirkind example, we suggest the Canadian authorities begin a vast investigation. And where is Chabad in all of this? Will Chabad not step in and say something about the shenanigans of its disciples?
Kodak, The Twilight Zone, “Pushing a Product” and a “Well Told Story”
[Our thoughts…] [Corrected 8.14.20 to reflect comments – thank you for the comments]
In May of 1971, the Instamatic was being sold to “Make Your Pictures Count.” They were made affordable so everyone could buy one. They were simple so theoretically everyone could use one. They did not require threading film into a camera, winding it, potentially exposing the pictures already taken or even understanding the development process. It was officially a “point and shoot” a phrase not coined until sometime after its release.
Each piece of the Instamatic was self-confined, from the “Magicube” flash, to the film cartridge, to its ability to be used without batteries. This was an “aim and shoot” camera and Kodak was the most innovative in the business. We could continue to reminisce for hours on this; but that’s not today’s story. What’s important to understand for today’s purposes is that Kodak was, and always continued to be, a company engaged in all things “film and camera related” whether it was the chemical developer and other solutions of the earlier “threaded film” days or the cartridges which were loaded into Kodak’s Instamatic and its flashbulb components or the Kodachrome film used in motion pictures. The company was ahead of its time.
However, it was not then nor is it now a pharmaceutical company. The idea of somehow pivoting to pharma was a surprise.
When the announcement was made by the Federal Government in late July that on “July 29, [we] signed a Letter of Interest with Eastman Kodak,” which LOI contemplated $750 Million in Loans so Eastman Kodak to further a newly contrived division called “Kodak Pharmaceuticals,” there were more than enough skeptics. We were among those who thought the whole venture absurd and nothing, if not cagey.
It was more like a “shake one’s head” moment, not unfamiliar in our current world which feels like a daily walk into the “Twilight Zone.” And our video clip of the Twilight Zone above will explain that reference and its connection to this story.
But the “reinvention” of Eastman Kodak did not begin there on July 29, 2020. It began several months earlier with negotiations among the Executives at Eastman Kodak and the Federal Government, presumably including feasibility studies and other logistical considerations, which likely lasted for months. A pharma division represented a material change to a public company, which would undoubtedly affect share prices (and that played out on July 29, 2020).
Disgraced jails union boss Norman Seabrook is going to jail.
The former leader of the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association lost an appeal Tuesday of his conviction for accepting a $60,000 bribe in exchange for a $20 million investment of members’ money in a doomed hedge fund.
Seabrook had been out on bail while he fought the case. The decision means it is highly likely he will have to begin serving his sentence of four years and 10 months.
His appeal had hinged on his belief at the time he made the investment that it would get good returns for correction officers. He said details of the loss suffered as a result of the hedge fund, Platinum Partners, going bankrupt prejudiced his right to a fair trial.
The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals rejected those arguments. Seabrook, the three-judge panel noted, had suppressed warnings from a union lawyer that the investment was risky.
To continue reading, click here.
Harlem Congressman Adriano Espaillat received real-time election results in 2014 thanks to a notorious Mayor de Blasio donor’s connections at NYPD headquarters, evidence obtained by the Daily News shows.
The previously undisclosed episode involving Jona Rechnitz and Espaillat, who was then a state Senator, is yet another example of how the City Hall insider quickly developed unique access to New York politicos by throwing around money.
Emails obtained by The News show Rechnitz got Espaillat to do him a big favor in the midst of the competitive race — and then swapped numerous emails with his chief of staff on primary night.
A source with direct knowledge said Rechnitz’s ties to Espaillat were investigated by prosecutors in the Southern District of New York. That office brought charges against high-ranking cops, members of the NYPD’s gun license division and former jails union boss Norman Seabrook, thanks to the aspiring real estate power player’s cooperation.
The News reported last month on an episode involving de Blasio, the then-landlord of Grand Central Terminal and Rechnitz as part of the federal probe of Hizzoner’s fundraising practices.
To read in its entirety, click here.
All In the Chabad Family. From Shoah Gelt to a Bail Request for Synagogue and Mikvah Attendance – Why is No One Reporting on This?
[Edited – 8.13.20]
Chabad Lubavitch is not without its scandals. It is, in our opinion, largely lacking in accountability, particularly where one of their own, a pillar of their community is involved.
To give some historic perspective, Colel Chabad is the oldest and most prestigious Chabad charity in the world. It is well respected and called upon as a Chabad Partner for Shluchim (outreach). In the 1990’s the Zirkind family established a branch of Colel Chabad in Montreal, Canada, a task completed by patriarch of the family, Simcha Zirkind. Going back as early as 1998, the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission approved a television station for and on behalf of Rabbi Zalman Zirkind.
In 2015, the Chabad Lubavitch Headquarters Magazine honored Rabbi Simcha Zirkind as a “pioneer of Chabad Activities in Quebec who died at the age of 76.
Rabbi [Simcha] Zirkind was among the pioneering activists of the Lubavitch Youth Organization in Montreal. He later raised funds for Colel Chabad, Machne Israel and Kehot Publication Society.
In 2004 he launched the Advice for Life project which made the Rebbe’s teachings available to many in the Jewish community of Quebec. Over the years he distributed over 200,000 copies of the various editions of the publication.
It seems, however, the family has used this charity as a slush fund and vehicle for money laundering. Colel Chabad is based in Brooklyn, NY, with branches around the world. It is to some extent the financial epicenter of Chabad.
Rabbi Zalman Zirkind is the Director of the Canadian branch of Colel Chabad. Colel Chabad of Canada has long been connected to money laundering schemes, going back to 2011 and earlier, as seen in the National Post article linked here.
In 2019, long after the article above from 2011, the LostMessiah Blog reported on Mark Zirkind, drug trafficking and the claims of “Shoah Gelt” which were raised in a 2019 Canadian appeal of a 2014 sentence for money laundering. It was not until this blog reported on that story in 2019, that other papers picked it up.
On July 21, 2020 Chabad member and Crown Heights resident Benzion Zirkind, formerly of Montreal, Canada, was arrested and indicted by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York for Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering, from 2018 to 2020.
A few days earlier, on July 16, 2020 Benzion’s uncle, Zalman Zirkind, of Montreal, Canada, was arrested in Champlain, New York for Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering, on charges related to those of his nephew.
TIMING IS EVERYTHING! A $54M Tax Benefit at the Perfect Moment, a Kodak Moment…
For the time being, let’s set aside our belief that the entire Kodak transaction was cagey from the get-go. President Donald Trump was going to magically turn a legendary camera and film company into a Pharmaceutical Giant with a simple Samantha-esque shaking of his nose. Or perhaps, more like Genie stepping out of the bottle. Hmmmm… were those shows filmed in Kodachrome?
Let us also set aside the number of people who became very wealthy from a few presses of the proverbial cursor to conduct some well-timed Kodak trades, not only on the day the US Stock Market made history 20 triggers later, but far sooner.
Let us also ignore how many of those people had insider knowledge and were making trades as early as negotiations had begun with the Trump Administration and the Kodak executives for Kodak to pivot to pharmaceuticals.
On July 29, 2020, Kodak’s shares rose so fast that they tripped the SEC’s circuit breakers 20 times. This is the first time in the history of the system put in place to halt trading, that it has been triggered that many times. On that day, CNN reported:
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump announced the company would receive a $765 million loan to launch Kodak Pharmaceuticals, which will produce generic active pharmaceutical ingredients to reduce America’s dependency on foreign drug makers.The company’s shares have skyrocketed on the news. Following a more than 200% jump in Tuesday trading, the rally continued on Wednesday and the shares ended up 318%.But the soaring performance wasn’t without hiccups: The New York Stock Exchange halted trading in the shares 20 times throughout Wednesday’s trading session as the stock soared, climbing more than 650% at its highest.
Behind the scenes, on that same day, one of Kodak’s board member was timing a donation to a charity, Chemdas Yisroel, started by, well… him. While we do not question the philanthropy of the Karfunkel’s, we are questioning the integrity of the entire transaction.
Mr. Karfunkel is, or was, an insider on the day the donation was made. A transfer of shares in our opinion, whether gifted to a charity or to a child is still akin to a transaction in those shares, particularly if the donor is given an equitable benefit of that transfer. In this case the Karfunkel’s benefited from a tax perspective to the order of $54 Million Dollars in tax benefits after a donation valued at approximately 119M.
Moreover, if the transfer was timed with the moment the shares were at their peak, which given the nuances of donation is altogether possible, were they effectively halted at the moment of donation? And, if all shareholders were “halted” from a securities trading perspective, why can the paper be transferred at the time of the halt? Is this not a securities violation? In other words, could they even transfer from an ownership perspective at the timing they transferred and for the value received?
The above pages are from the ruling of the Appellate Court in the Murray Huberfeld/Norman Seabrook Platinum Saga. In our opinion it is nothing short of a travesty of justice.
The victims were indeed the retirees who invested pension funds under Norman Seabrook’s guidance and control. The retirees are the very people who stand to gain equitably by compelling Murray Huberfeld to repay some of the losses they incurred on a failed investment from which he stood to gain. Those losses were realized because of the actions of Huberfeld.
And, when the lower court Judge stated that the sentence would have been the same regardless of which guidelines were used, the Appellate Judges should have accepted the lower court Judge’s credibility, integrity and the process he used. It is somewhat disheartening that they did not.
Moreover, the ruling raises questions about the integrity of the process moving forward. The Appellate Court has basically undermined the credibility of the lower court Judge with the following statement, which we find unsettling at best:
Appeal from United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Alvin K. Hellerstein, J.), convicting Murray Huberfeld, after a guilty plea, of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371. We hold that the district court erred at sentencing by applying the commercial bribery sentencing guideline based on an uncharged bribery scheme that the government dropped in exchange for Huberfeld pleading guilty to the wire fraud. Vacatur is warranted because we cannot be confident, despite the district court’s statement to the contrary, that it would have imposed the same sentence had it instead used the correct guideline.
We sincerely hope that the lower court will use another process and come to the same conclusions, the same sentence or even one that is longer, with greater restitution to be paid. The sentencing guidelines allowed the sentence imposed. It should remain. These were not victimless crimes.
Commissioner for Hackney tells Child Sexual Abuse inquiry of inability to enforce safeguarding for Charedi students and it being ‘impossible’ to map unregulated schools
The commissioner charged with engaging yeshivas on child safeguarding has said it is “like playing whack-a-mole” because they up sticks and move once detected.
Independent Child Safeguarding Commissioner of City and Hackney Safeguarding Children Partnership Jim Gamble, a former senior policeman from Northern Ireland, made the comments under oath to public prosecutor Fiona Scolding.
Gamble, who has spent seven years trying to engage yeshivas, was giving evidence via Zoom at the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse on Tuesday, with Orthodox Jewish leaders set to respond on Wednesday.
As if the Outrageous Kodak Pivot to Pharma Wasn’t Absurd Enough… We Could Jokingly Commented: “All We Need is a Tax Deductible Donation to a Synagogue”
Kodak came up in an article we wrote in 2018 which is, we believe, relevant to the utter insanity of the recent Kodak transaction. Whomever concocted this folly deserves a prize for one of most creative ways to manipulate the financial markets amidst a pandemic. The greatest victims are Kodak shareholders and those unsavy investors who thought buying Kodak was a good idea. It wasn’t, unless you caught it JUST IN TIME. To do that, you had to be an Insider (with few exceptions).
Yesterday (7/28/20), President Trump surprised a LOT of people announcing that via the Defense Production Act (DPA) the US government is going to give Kodak (NYSE:KODK) $765 million to make pharmaceuticals. The tie to current COVID-19 pandemic issues, for which the Act was invoked, is at best tenuous. Somehow the announcement seems to be more about moving pharma production back to the USA. Which is why it left me, and a lot of others, asking, “why would you pick Kodak?” Seeking Alpha
Trump’s ties to the Orthodox Jewish community is no surprise to those of us researching these topics. He did, after all, commute the sentence of Shalom Rubashkin, heavily tied to both the Chabad and the Satmar communities. This was undoubtedly a favor returned for the bloc vote, and likely other personal and professional benefits for friends and family.
Trump’s daughter and son-in-law have deep, heavily leveraged and big money ties to the Jewish community, most particularly as it connects to Chabad. Ivanka’s former business partner has millions in taxes forgiven by the Internal Revenue Service with many of us left to shake our heads. He was then accused of duping diamond dealers. It should be noted that Ivanka’s former partner denied he owed taxes. But then there’s the odd arson claim involving the same partner.
Jared Kushner’s ties to the power brokers within the religious real-estate mogulcommunity is heavily documented in numerous (questionable) transactions. He has lobbied for his personal success and his wishes have indeed been granted.
So, the only thing missing from the absurdity of the Kodak transaction was the
The Ukranian Oligarchs, the Ties to the US Government, Power and Money
LM began investigating the story of the Ukranian Oligarchs deeply embedded in US political affairs in 2019 as part of the investigation into the arrest of other Ukranian nationals tied to the government. Actually, the investigation started earlier when LM began looking into the Dan Gertler stories in 2016.
More recently, our inquiries have included Rudolph Giuliani’s pursuit of business in the Ukraine. The Magnitsky Act sanctions against Gertler which were toppled by executive order (more on that in a later story) and now a recent investigation into Ukranian oligarchs heavily leveraged in a number of US states who allegedly laundered and stole billions of dollars.
The story about these men and their somewhat intricate ties to high level US Government officials included a number of significant news articles about Arsen Avakov, Ukraine’s Interior Minister and Marie Yovanovitch (who, if you will recall was ousted from her position as the US ambassador to the Ukraine). We posit that Yovanovitch knew what was going on, wanted to put an end to the wholesale purchase of parts of the US to powers that be in the Ukraine and got tossed aside for that reason. Her testimony during the impeachment hearings likely missed far too much about what she knew than it brought to light.
The information we uncovered along the way, we believe, should have been part of the US impeachment inquiry, which itself was unsuccessful; but only because of the political climate. The mistakes of that inquiry were far more about what was ignored during hearings than anything else, namely that likely all the President’s men were playing both sides of the Ukranian double-edged sword to establish relationships and with Ukranian power-brokers thereby yielding themselves significant political power and financial benefits. No politician worth his weight in corrupt political salt would have been immune to the money and power these connections could help wield.
A U.S. company affiliated with the Ukrainian billionaire Igor Kolomoisky that has been accused of participating in an international fraud scheme was raided by the FBI in two locations on Tuesday.
Agents conducted “law enforcement activity” in Cleveland and Miami at addresses that correspond with the offices of Optima Management Group, according to FBI Special Agent Vicki Anderson.
No arrests were made, she said. Photographs published by the Cleveland Plain Dealer show agents taking boxes from the Cleveland location.
Optima was part of an international scheme in which billions of dollars were siphoned from a Ukrainian bank by Kolomoisky to buy U.S. real estate, according to a civil lawsuit filed last year in Delaware. A grand jury in Cleveland is investigating Kolomoisky’s suspected role in the scheme, BuzzFeed News reported.
Optima is controlled by three Floridians accused in the suit of serving as Kolomoisky’s business representatives in the U.S., acquiring assets in their own name with money allegedly diverted from Privatbank, which Kolomoisky co-founded.
In some nursing homes, 100% of the residents are positive for the coronavirus. That’s by design. These facilities have volunteered to devote part or all of their buildings exclusively to treating COVID-19 patients, who bring in more government money. But to make room for them, the original residents can be forced out of the places they’ve called home.
“We’re very concerned for them,” he said. “We’re concerned for the loved ones they go home to, we’re concerned for the grocery store workers they come in contact with. We’re concerned for the community, that this could be the way it’s transmitted out of the facility.”
Terenzini said the town wishes Scott would reconsider the 50% occupancy requirement for hotels, and instead base the occupancy cap on the size of the institution. While he thinks the rule, as it stands, makes sense for small bed-and-breakfast-style inns, he feels large hotels should be more restricted.
“When you have a facility that can host 600 people,” he said, “50% is 300, and that’s still a lot of people, during a pandemic, to come into a small community and stay for a long period of time coming from other places in the country, including some of the hardest-hit places, like New York City, and the surrounding communities in New Jersey and elsewhere.”
Bennington town officials released a statement yesterday detailing actions the town has taken to ensure compliance with Scott’s executive order, including a cap on 75% occupancy at summer camps.
Given the camp’s reported number of 350 campers, the camp is well within occupancy of Southern Vermont College’s campus, which has an occupancy of around 1,000 people, Schirling said.
Some Bennington residents are frustrated that state officials have relied on the camp director’s word, and have not attempted to otherwise verify the number of campers, their negative Covid-19 tests, or whether campers and staff members are socially distancing and wearing masks.
“If there are reasonable grounds to believe someone’s in violation of an executive order, then we send a variety of different entities depending on the circumstances to check in on that,” Schirling said. “There’s been no information coming out of Bennington to indicate that they are not in compliance with the health and safety guidance.”
The town’s statement, written by Bennington Selectboard Chair Don Campbell and Stuart Hurd, town manager, also mentioned a blog post — titled “Jackson NJ Lawbreaker Sets Up Sketchy Summer Camp in Vermont?”— by an organization called Rise Up Ocean County that circulated recently. The group has been under scrutiny by New Jersey officials and anti-hate watchdog groups for anti-Semitic and racist comments that appeared on its Facebook page.
“Earlier this year, the governor of New Jersey identified Rise Up Ocean County as an anti-Semitic group and their Facebook page was taken down due to their hateful messages about the Jewish community,” the statement reads. “The town of Bennington does not condone any hateful rhetoric and strives to create a welcoming and safe environment for all.”
Terenzini said his reluctance about Perlstein and the camp is centered on health concerns and its alignment in timing with Covid-19.
To read the article it its entirety, click here.
Yesterday the attorney representing Bennington Township was to be in court seeking to withdraw from the stipulated agreement made on July 22nd and approved by the court on July 23rd regarding noise violations occurring on the campus of Southern Vermont College as a result of Camp Zichron Chaim.
Merrill Bent was to ask that each defendant be held separately in contempt stating in her motion that “It is clear that defendants will not adhere to any obligation imposed on them — whether by this court’s order or by contract.”
Bent’s demand was to be “that the court issue an order forbidding the defendants from conducting any summer camp activities on the property, effectively immediately, and order defendants to pay the town the expenses of suit, including its attorneys’ fees.”
But it was not to be.
The defendants, Moshe Dovid Perlstein and Camp Southern Vermont LLC, represented by Carl Lisman, requested and received a postponement with a new hearing date of August 5, 2020. That delay allows the camp to continue to operate for at least the first week of a scheduled three week camp.