SCHEDULING ORDER as to Shimon Rosenfeld: The parties shall appear for a Guilty Plea via Video Remote on May 20, 2021 at 11:00 am. A link has been sent to all parties. Non party participants may dial into the conference at 11:00 a.m. on May 20, 2021, by dialing 1-650-479-3207 and entering pinn 160 000 0489. Ordered by Judge Kiyo A. Matsumoto on 5/6/2021. (Williams-Jackson, Sandra) (Entered: 05/06/2021)Attachments area
Reprinted with Permission of the Author:
In 2014 Canadian Rabbi Mark Zirkind was caught speeding on a highway leading to Montreal. Mark had just flown into the Toronto airport and was heading back to Montreal in a rental car. Mark had picked up over a million dollars in cash from an international narco drug dealer at a shopping mall near the Toronto airport. Lesson to learn from Mark: If you have over a million dollars in narco cash you should obey the traffic laws.
Mark got busted by the Canadian Mounties and went to trial. At trial Mark claimed that he was duped by rabbis and narco dealers. Mark thought he was transporting “Shoah Gelt.” Mark told the Canadian jury that he thought he was delivering cash for safekeeping for Jews in Europe who were afraid of a second Holocaust. Mark told the jury that he was doing a mitzvah. The jury didn’t believe Mark. Mark got sentenced to four years in a Canadian prison in Saskatchewan where he learned how to smoke salmon and tan pelts.
Rabbi Mark enlisted his American brother Rabbi Zalman Zirkind to help him launder money for international drug dealers. Rabbi Zalman in turn enlisted his nephew Rabbi Benzion Zirkind to join him in the family business. The Rabbis laundered tens of millions in cash through New York, Hong Kong, Israel, Columbia, Canada and Mexico. Zalman and Benzion both got busted by the Feds. Zalman pleaded guilty. Zalman is getting sentenced tomorrow in Federal Court before Judge Denise Cote in New York City. Zalman was facing 14 years of incarceration based on the Federal sentencing guidelines. The Justice Department agreed to lower their recommendation to five years based on Zalman’s health and family issues. Zalman has many children and has some personal medical issues, as well as medical issues related to his children.
Zalman’s nephew Benzion pleaded not guilty. Benzion will be facing trial with his co-conspirators Emiliano Bomba, Brian Para Machado, Jose Baez, and Andy Garibaldi Lopez. I don’t believe that you can count Benzion’s co-conspirators for a minyan.
Zalman’s attorney has made the following arguments for leniency in court filings: “In contrast to many men in Zirkinds’ Orthodox Jewish community, including his own father, who relinquished all child rearing responsibilities, ie., never change diapers, grocery shop, or take their children to community outings, Zirkind proudly and fully shared home and child rearing responsibilities with his wife…. he would also fill the family car with gas, take out the garbage, pay the bills, deal with the bank, take the children to school and doctors’ appointments, and for the Sabbath, would make the cholent a special meal prepared on Friday to be enjoyed on Saturday… The reactions from people in Zalman’s community upon learning of his crime include scorn, ridicule and ostracism. Even some family members no longer want to have anything to do with him… Though now of marriage age, Zalman’s son appears to be ostracized by the matchmakers and mothers in his community. Before Zalman’s arrest, mothers and matchmakers were promoting others to marry his oldest son. Before his arrest, a marriage was on the short horizon. The Zirkind family, now shamed in the community by Zalman’s sins, and plea of guilt, the heretofore imminent marriage appears as a black hole in that young man’s future.”
The Feds will argue at sentencing that Zalman continued to launder millions of dollars of narco dollars after his brother Mark got busted in Canada in 2014. Didn’t Zalman see the writing on the wall? Zalman’s attorneys argued in response: “In the exercise of its informed discretion, the Government continued to allow Mr. Zirkind to deal with others after he was identified as a money transmitter. Had the Government chosen to arrest Mr. Zirkind in 2018 Zalman could have cooperated and might be facing a lower sentence or guideline range.”
Zalman received numerous character letters of support from prominent Rabbis in the United States and Canada. Zalman also received a character letter signed by renowned Canadian Professor of Mathematics, and author of many inspirational books, Rabbi Doctor Abraham Boyarsky. Dr. Boyarsky wrote the following: “I believe Zalman is a victim of an educational system that I battled fiercely for years… in 1990 I founded TAV College with a mission of training young men like Zalman to acquire a profession such as computer training and earn an honest living. For attempting to do the unthinkable, I was called a traitor by the rabbinical leaders in the community and threatened with cheirim, excommunication. My novel, The Chassidic Trauma Unit, portrays life in this educationally impoverished community. It is my good fortune that most people in my community can’t read English, otherwise I would have been lynched a long time ago.”Zirkind Letters
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.
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?
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.
Former Director of Chabad of Poway and Several Co Defendants Plead Guilty to Multi Million-Dollar Tax Evasion and Fraud
For Further Information, Contact:
Assistant U. S. Attorneys Emily W. Allen (619) 546-9738,
Andrew Young (619) 546-7981, and Oleksandra Johnson (619) 546-9769
SAN DIEGO – Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, former director at Chabad of Poway, and five of his associates pleaded guilty in federal court today and Monday to fraud charges, admitting that they participated in a complex, years-long, multi-million dollar tax-evasion scheme and other financial deceptions involving theft of public money.
According to his plea agreement, while Rabbi Goldstein was director of the Poway synagogue, he received at least $6.2 million in phony contributions to the Chabad and affiliated charities and secretly refunded up to 90 percent of the donations to the “donors.” After Rabbi Goldstein provided these donors with fake receipts, they illegally claimed huge tax deductions for these nonexistent donations, and the rabbi kept about 10 percent – more than half a million dollars over the course of the fraud – for himself. Tax losses to the IRS were more than $1.5 million. At least 20 taxpayers were involved in this and related tax-evasion schemes.
This case was under investigation for more than two years before Rabbi Goldstein was shot and wounded during the April 27, 2019 attack on worshippers at the Chabad. In that case, federal civil rights and hate crimes charges are pending against John T. Earnest of Rancho Peñasquitos.
The rabbi was aware of the investigation at the time of the shooting. FBI and IRS agents had searched his home in October of 2018, and he began cooperating with the investigation shortly after that time.
According to his plea agreement, Rabbi Goldstein has agreed to cooperate with ongoing investigations of uncharged co-conspirators and to forfeit $1 million in proceeds and pay restitution of $2.5 million.
“This case has brought us all a great deal of anguish because of the attack on Chabad of Poway,” said U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer. “But whatever a defendant’s dire personal circumstances, or stature in the community, we will always seek justice, first and foremost. We cannot, and will not, sweep serious criminal conduct under the rug. We cannot look the other way because a perpetrator of crime has suddenly become a victim of crime.”
“This case shows the FBI’s dedication to untangling the web of fraud in a complex, multi-million dollar charitable donation scheme that violated the trust of the Chabad of Poway and defrauded the United States government,” said FBI San Diego Acting Special Agent-in-Charge Omer Meisel. “The FBI is committed to holding those accountable who use their position and stature in the community as a disguise to commit fraud. All the defendants in this case, including Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, have admitted their guilt in these fraudulent schemes and will no longer be able to use deceit and lies to cheat those who were intended to receive charitable funds and taxpayer dollars.”