Hush, Hush Lakewood, money paid for silence regarding municipal affairs…


Lakewood paid township manager ‘hush money’ to stay silent, lawsuit alleges

Lakewood’s former township manager, who got a $327,000 severance package when he resigned in September, received illegal “hush money” to stay quiet about municipal affairs, a group claims in a lawsuit filed Monday.

The lawsuit alleges Lakewood Mayor Ray Coles “engaged in a conspiracy” with the former township manager, Thomas Henshaw, and other township officials, to reach Henshaw’s separation agreement.

Resident Larry S. Loigman, and a group called Lakewood Citizens for Fiscal Integrity, claim in the suit that the agreement violated state and local measures limiting the amount of money Henshaw should have received.

Henshaw’s separation agreement provided for $327,000 in payments, which includes his salary through the end of 2019. The suit claims Henshaw should have received far less money — just a few months’ salary.

“Such extraordinary payment was intended as ‘hush money’ to buy Defendant Henshaw’s silence as to municipal affairs,” the lawsuit stated.

The lawsuit was filed in Superior Court in Toms River by Lakewood Citizens for Fiscal Integrity, a group of residents who are not individually named, and Loigman, a former fire commissioner and lawyer known as a watchdog of local government. The township, Coles and Henshaw are defendants in the lawsuit.

Henshaw declined to comment on the lawsuit, but township officials quickly rebuffed Loigman’s claims. Coles and Lakewood Township attorney Steven Secare said Monday the lawsuit was frivolous.

“This is another frivolous attempt by Mr. Loigman to muddy waters that are absolutely clear,” Secare said. “The agreement with Mr. Henshaw was negotiated in good faith by the township and Mr. Henshaw. His resignation was amicable to both sides.”

Coles said negotiations over Henshaw’s severance were approved by Secare and the entire township committee.

“I really don’t know what he’s basing this on,” Coles said of the lawsuit.

RESIGNATION: Lakewood town manager quits suddenly after possible email dispute

SEVERANCE: Lakewood pays $327,000 severance to former administrator

Henshaw resigned abruptly in September after three years with the township. His separation agreement included a payment of $327,000, which included about $276,000 of salary through the end of this year and 2019.

The agreement says Henshaw cannot sue the township or talk to the press or others in a way that would “adversely effect” the township’s business or reputation.

Henshaw’s contract and state law say that the municipal manager must be removed by a two-thirds vote of the five-member township committee. It also called for two weeks’ notice if Henshaw chose to resign.

The lawsuit says the required removal vote never happened and Henshaw never submitted his resignation.

But Henshaw’s contract with the township says if he is removed, his salary must be paid for six months “unless other arrangements are made and agreed upon by both parties.” Lakewood Township code says if the committee voted to fire Henshaw, he’s entitled to three months of his salary as payment.

“This three-month provision shall not apply in the event the Municipal Manager voluntarily terminates employment by resigning the office or position,” the code reads. “In such event the Manager shall be paid only to the date of actual termination of duties.”

The lawsuit asks a judge to declare the separation agreement invalid and issue an order stopping any township money from going to Henshaw. The separation agreement says Henshaw will continue to be paid bi-weekly. The judge should also hold Coles personally liable for any money the township owes, the lawsuit says.

READ: Lakewood baby case: ‘It was an accident,’ caretaker says

BREAKING NEWS: Lakewood BMG student missing, cops say

Township officials and Henshaw have declined to comment on the reason for his resignation.

However, a township source, who was not authorized to speak to the media, said the resignation stemmed from a misunderstanding.

Henshaw said he thought township staff was being asked to improperly delete emails, according to the source.

Coles confirmed a recent discussion among township staff about email retention policies that occurred after the township received a records request for 10 years worth of emails, but said he did not ask anyone to delete messages.

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Can’t Make This Stuff Up… Hasidic Power Broker With Mayoral Access


Hasidic political power broker has inside access to mayor, new emails reveal

Daily News:

A Hasidic political power broker was so deep inside the mayor’s inner circle that he got VIP treatment from top City Hall staffers and regularly corresponded with de Blasio — and he even had the First Lady’s cell phone number, newly released emails show.

Yitzchok (Jules) Fleischer, a gatekeeper in the Bobov Hasidic community, called in favors from the mayor for a job and a handicap parking placard. He offered Hizzoner advice on dealing with the police union and repeatedly texted Chirlane McCray on her cell.

The 90 pages of emails obtained by the Daily News through a Freedom of Information Law request show Fleischer was regularly in the mayor’s ear — sometimes asking for help, other times serving as an ad hoc political consultant.

Paperwork on behalf of Yitzchok (Jules) Fleischer to get a vehicle placard is pictured here.
Paperwork on behalf of Yitzchok (Jules) Fleischer to get a vehicle placard is pictured here. (Obtained by Daily News)

His role as an important go-between for de Blasio and 5,000 votes he could deliver in the Orthodox community allowed him to be a nudge to the mayor and sometimes McCray.

Sometimes he got to be too much, emails show.

“Chirlane says you keep texting her and wanting to meet,” de Blasio emailed Fleischer on Jan. 13, 2015. “Unless that is specific to some of the work she is doing, you should stop reaching out to her and tell me what’s on your mind.

“Then I will tell you if I can help or not,” the mayor adds. “Deal with me, not her.”

Email records show Fleischer wasn’t shy about offering advice on how to handle de Blasio’s ongoing dispute with the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association.

The wannabe adviser suggested that de Blasio apologize just like President Kennedy did after the Bay of Pigs disaster.

“I think U should do the ‘same’, explain on air that U stand with the PD, & slowly distance yourself from Al (Sharpton) it will help U a lot,” Fleischer wrote Jan. 8, 2015.

“I saw this and appreciate your thought,” de Blasio replied the next day.

Fleischer also felt emboldened enough to ask the mayor for an undisclosed job in the administration. The position — which went to someone else — is redacted from the email exchange for privacy reasons.




Chasidic Businessman Allegedly Steals 13 Million Dollars

An Alleged Ponzi Scheme Amounting to About 13M Dollars

The below article, loosely translated, a business from Crown Heights, Brooklyn from a prominent and distinguished family, also an attorney,  has engaged in a scheme of tens of thousands of dollars. The contention of the investors is that he doctored documents and books and showed significant rates of return, making promises to them of similar returns on their investments.

Only after they tried to redeem their money were they alerted to the scam.

Some of the Investors have tried to obtain assistance from the Rabbinical Courts and some have gone the route of the civil courts.


LostMessiah will follow up with more information

המשקיעים בהלם: איש העסקים החסידי הונה ב-13,000,000 דולר • פרסום ראשון

איש עסקים מקראון הייטס, בן למשפחה מכובדת, הבטיח רווחים נאים וגלגל עשרות מיליוני דולר • כעת נחשפה ההונאה: הכספים מעולם לא הושקעו • בין הנפגעים: אנשי עסקים, בני משפחה – וגם מי שהפקידו בידיו את כל כספם • חלק מהמשקיעים מרחמים, אבל אחרים רוצים שישב בכלא כל חייו

טלטלה בשכונת קראון הייטס שבברוקלין: איש עסקים, בן למשפחה מכובדת, ביצע הונאת כספים בסכום משוער של עשרות מיליוני דולרים, והפיל משקיעים שהפקידו בידיו את מיטב כספם.

לטענת המשקיעים, איש העסקים זייף, תחת כסות תואר עורך דין שברשותו, מסמכים – והציג מצגות של השקעות מניבות.

לטענתם, איש העסקים הבטיח הבטחות לרווחים גבוהים מהממוצע.

רק לאחר שבשבועות האחרונים החלו לצוץ שמועות, ומשקיעים רבים ביקשו למשוך את כספי השקעותיהם, נחשפה ההונאה הגדולה: הכספים שהועברו אליו מעולם לא הושקעו.

לחילופין נחשף, כך לטענתם, כי מדובר במהמר כפייתי כבד, שגלגל עשרות מיליוני דולרים והימר במשך שנים עם הכסף.

גורם בשכונת קראון הייטס המעורה בפרשה, מספר לחרדים 10: “זהו עוקץ שנמשך שנים. בין הנפגעים בהונאה ישנם אנשי עסקים וסתם יהודים מתושבי קראון הייטס, כמו גם מתושבי השכונות החרדיות הסמוכות לה בברוקלין.

“אבל לא רק הם. הוא לקח כספים גם ממכרים, ואפילו בני משפחה קרובה, משלוחים של חב”ד, ומ’בעלי בתים’ של שלוחים – שכולם נתנו אמון בדמותו המרשימה.

“כולם מציינים שהוא היה נראה אמין מאוד. גם הממולחים והזהירים נפלו כאן”.

• בכמה כסף מדובר?

“כעת מדובר על 13 מליון דולר, לאחר שהיו כאלו שחשדו ומשכו את כספם בשנים האחרונות. אבל יכול להיות שהסכום גבוה בהרבה, כאשר עוד אנשים יתלוננו”.

• מה עושים אותם שהפסידו את כספם?

“חלק נאיביים, רצים לבד”ץ של שכונת קראון הייטס, בתקווה שיעזרו להם… חלק למשטרה ובתי משפט, אבל טרם גובשה קבוצת תביעה.

To read the remainder of the article click here.


Esformes Throwing Baskets for… Why? And With Medicaid Funds, Really?

Miami exec bribed basketball coach to get son into Ivy League school, indictment charges


A wealthy Miami Beach businessman at the center of a massive Medicare fraud case has been charged with paying bribes to former University of Pennsylvania basketball head coach Jerome Allen so his son could be accepted as a “recruited” player to the Ivy League college.

In an indictment, Philip Esformes was charged anew on Friday of using proceeds from defrauding the taxpayer-funded Medicare program to pay about $75,000 to Allen, now an assistant with the Boston Celtics, in bank wire transfers, hotel rooms, private jet travel and limo transportation.

The indictment does not identify the university, coach or student-athlete, only that the college is in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A Justice Department prosecutor, prompted by a question from a Miami federal judge, disclosed on Friday that the college is Penn, the basketball coach is Allen, and the student is Esformes’ son, Morris. He entered the university in the fall of 2015 but never made its basketball team.


Morris Esformes, Hebrew Academy Class of 2015
Hebrew Academy

It is not clear from the indictment, which expands upon the $1 billion Medicare fraud case that led to Philip Esformes’ arrest two years ago, whether other people may face charges, including Allen. The former Penn player and NBA journeyman resigned as the Penn head basketball coach in 2015 after a series of losing seasons and was hired as an assistant by the Boston Celtics.

Allen could not be reached for comment. Representatives for the University of Pennsylvania and the Celtics declined to comment on Saturday.

According to the indictment, Esformes paid the coach so that he would designate his son as a “recruited basketball player” to support his application to Penn in 2014.

Philip Esformes’ lawyer denied any bribery scheme, saying his client’s son was qualified to get into Penn on his own academic and athletic merits. Defense Attorney Howard Srebnick told the Miami Herald on Friday that Morris Esformes was a standout “A” student and basketball point guard at Hebrew Academy in Miami Beach.

Srebnick, a Penn grad himself, said “[Morris] scored more than 150 points higher on his SAT than I did, and I cannot dribble a basketball with either hand, much less sink a three-point shot.”

He added that Esformes’ son has maintained a nearly 3.6 GPA, made the Dean’s List at Penn in the last semester and plans to graduate from the Wharton School with the class of 2019.

In a June 2015 interview with College Hoops Daily, Morris said he started playing basketball in middle school and his private coach and trainer was Demetrius McDaniels, whose stepbrother is Miami Heat superstar Dwyane Wade. At the time, the aspiring college point guard spoke about why he chose Penn over other Ivy League universities that he wanted to attend.

“I got a lot of looks from Cornell and Columbia, but I chose Penn rather early for a couple of reasons,” Esformes told CHD. “I want to go into business and the Wharton Business School is great. I also had a great relationship with Coach Jerome Allen. I saw how much he loved the school and just fell in love with it over a couple of visits.“

Srebnick said Philip Esformes hired Allen when his son was a sophomore in high school to help him improve his game, “as many parents do when their kids show athletic promise.”

But the indictment accused Esformes of paying a series of bribes to the coach, who is not identified in the indictment, and of tapping Medicare reimbursements to do it.

To read the article in its entirety click here.


Additional sources of information:

Indictment Alleges Bribery in Admissions at Penn

How a Florida Medicaid Fraud Case led to investigations of Ivy League basketball recruiting

Lakewood, the Who, What, Where, When and Why –


Race, religion, corruption and politics: A guide to the crisis in Lakewood


LAKEWOOD — The drive into Lakewood from the Parkway could be confused with any other stretch of county road near the Pinelands. There are farm stands, strip malls, modest neighborhoods and an occasional open field.

Then, you cross the border into Lakewood and the landscape changes immediately. There are suddenly crowded townhouse developments, new multifamily houses going up and members of the Orthodox Jewish community on every sidewalk.

Lakewood represents the convergence of almost every issue in New Jersey – race, religious freedom, discrimination, corruption, local politics, school funding, overdevelopment and transportation woes.

What makes it unique is the unprecedented growth of the town combined with the complex issues surrounding the booming Orthodox Jewish community.

While tensions have been rising in Lakewood for years, the turmoil has escalated in recent weeks with a showdown over school funding and a high-profile welfare fraud investigation.

The town thrust into the spotlight this summer with the arrest of 26 members of the Orthodox community accused of lying about their income to collect more than $2 million in public assistance.

The arrests brought renewed attention to Lakewood and highlighted what residents of the Ocean County town already know – Lakewood is changing. This once-faded resort community has become the most complex town in New Jersey.


What makes Lakewood unique?

Lakewood is booming. Thanks to an influx of Orthodox Jews, it has been New Jersey’s fastest-growing town over the last 20 years. It has one of the highest birth rates in the world. Housing is going up at an unprecedented pace.

“It’s probably the most attractive place in the United States today for a young Orthodox Jewish family,” said Rabbi Aaron Kotler, one of the leaders of the Orthodox community. “That’s a phenomenon that certainly didn’t exist when I was growing up, 20 or 30 years ago. But it’s a reality today.” 

Continue reading

Lakewood, NJ Welfare Fraud, Why Are there Still no Indictments?


Four of the 26 members of a community who were arrested in alleged multi-million dollar welfare fraud

Still no indictments 1 year after Lakewood welfare fraud sweep



More than a year after 26 members of Lakewood’s Orthodox Jewish community were arrested and charged with under-reporting income to qualify for welfare payments, no indictments have been handed up.

Authorities tell The Asbury Park Press that’s because the cases are complex. Normally, indictments follow the filing of charges by about four months.

Prosecutors say the accused, which includes 12 couples, illegally obtained nearly $2 million in benefits by misrepresenting their income and failing to disclose income from numerous sources on applications for Medicaid, housing, Social Security and food assistance benefits.

The arrests raised tensions in the town of Lakewood, which has seen a large influx of ultra-Orthodox Jewish families. Among those arrested were a rabbi and the former leader of a Jewish religious school.

Incidents of vandalism were reported after the charges were announced in late June 2017. Flyers posted on cars around the town cited the arrests, and someone posted a banner containing an anti-Jewish slur on a Holocaust memorial in front of a synagogue.

Local officials said the arrests also created fear among some residents about participating in welfare programs. But while state officials reported a decrease in enrollment of about 2,600 people in the months after the arrests, Lakewood Mayor Raymond Coles told the newspaper that demand for housing programs remains the same. The U.S. Census estimates about one-third of township residents live below poverty level.

Edward Bertucio, an attorney representing Rabbi Zalmen Sorotzkin, told the newspaper the length of time since the arrests indicates “the government does not have a case.”

About half of the couples who were charged will seek to avoid jail by repaying the benefits and satisfying other conditions under a pretrial diversion program available to first-time offenders, according to the newspaper.

Michael Cohen – Tax Investigation and NY AG


AP: New York AG looking to open tax investigation into Michael Cohen

A person familiar with the matter tells the Associated Press that New York’s attorney general is looking to open a criminal investigation into whether Michael Cohen also violated state tax law.

The person told The Associated Press Thursday that Attorney General Barbara Underwood recently requested a criminal referral from the state tax department to investigate and potentially file charges against Cohen, the former personal attorney for President Trump. Cohen pleaded guilty to eight counts, including two counts of campaign finance violations, in federal court in Manhattan on Tuesday.

The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to speak publicly.

A lawyer for Cohen declined to comment on the development.

The Attorney General’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CBS News.

Cohen owes at least $1.4 million to the IRS after pleading guilty Tuesday to evading federal taxes. It’s unclear if he also misstated his income on state returns.

The attorney general must get a referral to opening a criminal probe. Such requests are almost always granted.