Serial Fraudsters are no Different from Other Serial Criminals – Rechnitz Feeling Impervious in CA?

Jona Rechnitz in an undated photo.

Corrupt Mayor de Blasio donor Jona Rechnitz faces new FBI probe in L.A.: court papers

Notorious Mayor de Blasio donor Jona Rechnitz faces a new FBI investigation in Los Angeles, only months after he was sentenced for bribing public officials in New York.

Rechnitz’s latest legal trouble was revealed as part of an ongoing $7 million debt dispute in Los Angeles County Superior Court with a Beverly Hills investor, Victor Franco Noval.

Rechnitz’s attorneys wrote in a letter made public late Monday that they could not respond to the civil suit because it relates to the “subject matter of an ongoing criminal investigation led by the FBI.”

 

Noval’s attorney Ronald Richards said the FBI investigation was likely examining allegations Rechnitz was running a scam involving loans in exchange for diamonds he didn’t actually own.

“Basically he was borrowing money on diamonds that weren’t his — on top of creating one lie on top of another to keep the loans going,” Richards said.

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Platinum Partners – Can the Charges Stick? If not, We are All Doomed…

THE PLATINUM PARTNERS’ CONVICTION AND A VERDICT THAT, IF OVERTURNED, WILL ALLOW WHITE-COLLAR CRIME TO RUN RAMPANT…

Dear Readers:

We cannot overstate the importance of the verdict in the Platinum Partners’ case. The complexities involved in the scams perpetrated on investors, as well as the historical practice of the Defendants can also not be overstated. We followed Platinum for years. There was more than enough evidence to obtain a conviction. Those convictions should stand.

But then, there’s a master orator and talented attorney… Jose Baez.

Jose Baez, whose talent as a show-man, a skilled craftsman and an artist within a legal defense career, can only be admired by those of us who don’t have that type of skill. In a creative and theatrical cinematic courtroom performance, Baez likened the Platinum Partners scheme to a “run on the bank” of the It’s a Wonderful Life variety. He made a direct analogy between George Bailey and the Defendants, trying to place them in the same heroic conundrum of Bailey. What a way to ruin a great Jimmy Stewart movie. 

The major problem with that analogy is that George Bailey did not defraud people out of money. To the contrary, he was prepared to go to jail if the envelope of money was not found. He was prepared to be accountable to the bank’s clients.  The Platinum Partners’ funds did not misplace the money in an envelope. There were no absent-minded employees. Platinum Partners’ assets were intentionally, carefully, and craftily transferred to the benefit of the same partners in other funds. Platinum’s Partners could not meet redemptions because the entire movement of assets by the fund was one scheme after another, a series of  misrepresentations and untruths told to investors. There is no correlation. If anything, the closest comparison to any character from It’s a Wonderful Life is one that makes an analogy between Mark Nordlicht and Mr. Potter, the story’s antagonist who refused to lend Bailey money and wanted to close the bank and destroy the Bailey family.

Unlike the It’s a Wonderful Life story, Platinum Partners were not protagonists, kind decent people who made a terrible and hapless error. To turn Mark Nordlicht into George Bailey is like turning  John and Timothy Rigas into the Bailey Brothers or, Anna Gristina into a virgin. Just not happening… 

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The Anti-Semitism Mantra and the Victimized, Who Really are the Victims?

 

Who is Really Creating the Narrative?

Weaponizing the anti-Semitism “Mantra”

For those readers who do not know the definition, a “Mantra” is a slogan that is repeated over and over again for the purposes of concentration or meditation. It is, in other words, a form of mind-control. Some might say it can be a form of brainwashing. At it’s purest, a Mantra can be powerful tool for self-awareness, calm, a sense of peace. But, like all else, the pendulum swings both ways. Yin has its Yang.

Anti-Semitism as a Mantra, when used in weaponized form by those who would prefer to  distract attention from their behavior, shields any and all scrutiny. Criticism of the behavior gets viewed through the lens of a hater and not simply an investigator. As such the group, however irrelevant to the narrative, gets to act with impunity. The constant repetitive use of the term anti-Semitism is tragic insofar as it diminishes the value of the events and circumstances in historical context that led to the very word’s development in Judeo-Christian lexicon, the slaughter of millions of Jews.

While there have been other mass slaughters of people in human history, there does not appear to be a similar term for those who hate or show hostility against a group of people. The events of September 11, 2001, rightfully or wrongfully, led to a fear of and hostility towards overtly religious Muslims; but there is no similar word that describes that “group-hate” mentality. While anti-Semite might apply, it has not developed to describe the hatred towards Muslims.

African Americans and People of Color (trying to be sensitive with word use here) were enslaved, tortured, bought and sold as chattel and yet actions against them did not lead to a single defined term. Those who hate people of color are simply bigots or racists. Those who hate Asians don’t get a special adjective to describe them, nor do those who hate… well, you get the general gist. Haters of any particular group for whatever reason are defined under a single umbrella – bigot or racist.

Anti-Semitism was uniquely created as a term by history. It is now being uniquely weaponized as a mantra by behavior. That is a frightening and tragic reality. 

We have stated before and will repeat our sentiments here that the insidious distrust and tensions pervading New York and New Jersey are not foundationally about anti-Semitism. They are about over-development, unequal treatment under the law, corruption, judicial impropriety and a whole host of other indignities being perpetrated upon a myriad of different communities, including Jews. That the perpetrators are in large part ultra-Orthodox Jews is a function of the crime statistics and not a function of the community viewing that group harshly.

At least it did not begin that way.

Anyone who wants to turn the scrutiny of the behavior of: developers, landlords, tenants, not-for-profits, LLC’s, school board members, community members, community leaders and the list goes on, into a discussion of hate is allowing crimes to be committed with impunity. The financial crimes are at epidemic levels in New York and New Jersey, and they are going unchecked; because by shining light we are allegedly declaring war on religious Jews, on all Jews. This is the greatest con in history. It is an outright gaming of our very lexicon to allow a community’s members to act with impunity.  As such we are complicit in fostering the use of the anti-Semitism Mantra as a weapon; and it is being used against each and every one of us. This is a very dangerous precedent. 

It is high time that law enforcement, the judiciary, government officials and even Facebook open your eyes to the improprieties that are being committed. It is a moral imperative for ultra-Orthodox, Orthodox, Conservative and Reformed and otherwise unaffiliated Jewish leaders to take a stand against the blanket use of a the anti-Semitism mantra as a weapon. By participating in the repetition of the term you assist in the perpetration of crimes against entire groups of people.

Inevitably this will lead to real, unadulterated hatred. It is just a matter of time. People are getting hurt. Communities are being plundered. This is not victim blaming unless you sit and contemplate who are the real victims in the equation.

Look outside the box that would otherwise group the perpetrators because it is wholly irrelevant that so many are visibly religious Jews. Don’t let them convince you of a different reality. Had they been visibly religious Muslims or FLDS, or any other visibly religious group, there would not be a special word, to be used to create smoke and mirrors. Anti-Semitism is not the problem. 

But, a warning for the weary, tread that fine line of scrutiny and criticism carefully and be mindful. It is a treacherous road to travel. There are many innocent and visibly religious Jews who are being harmed both by the crime epidemic and by the repetition of the mantra. And they are worse off than everyone else.

Charming… CEO Sentenced in Scheme to Defraud Elderly Victims

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Former CEO Sentenced In Scheme To Defraud Elderly Victims In The Sale Of Worthless Stock

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that KEITH ORLEAN was sentenced today in Manhattan federal court to 32 months in prison for participating in a scheme to use false statements to promote and sell stock in his company. ORLEAN pled guilty on September 26, 2019, to one count of securities fraud and one count of securities fraud conspiracy before U.S. District Judge Vernon S. Broderick, who also imposed today’s sentence.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “Keith Orlean and his co-conspirators obtained more than $2 million by taking advantage of innocent investors – many of them elderly – through blatant lies.  As this prosecution and today’s sentence reflect, this kind of predatory fraud will not be tolerated.”

According to the allegations contained in the Complaint, the Indictment, and statements made in related court filings and proceedings:

For several years, ORLEAN and his codefendants operated a fraudulent scheme in which a salesman named “Mike Palmer” would call elderly persons on the phone and offer them what he claimed was a time-sensitive opportunity to buy stock in certain companies.  In fact, there was no “Mike Palmer,” and the salesman was actually Vladimir Ziskind or Kevin Weinzoff, co-conspirators of the defendant who were taking turns using the fake alias.  The purported time-sensitive investment opportunity was also fabricated by the defendants, as the company in which they solicited investments were actually companies under their control.  In one intercepted phone call conversation, Ziskind described to KEITH ORLEAN his strategy for a successful investor sales pitch as:  “You ram it down their fucking throat.”  In another intercepted call between Ziskind and ORLEAN, upon learning that a particular victim investor died, Ziskind remarked:  “I knew I should have pulled the last $10,000 out of him.”

The most recent version of the defendants’ phony sales pitch included false representations about an impending initial public offering, or “IPO,” for their company, Digital Donations Technologies, Inc.  For example, in April 2018, one of the defendants assured a victim investor that “our company is doing great,” that the company had an offer for an IPO valued at approximately $300 million, and that defendant KEITH ORLEAN was considering a private sale of the company for more than $1.5 billion. In truth, however, the defendants knew that the company had little or no actual commercial value and that no such IPO or sale was taking place.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) estimates that since April 2014, the defendants have convinced more than approximately 57 persons, many of whom were elderly, to purchase stock in companies controlled by one or more of the defendants based on false representations. During the period of the conspiracy, the defendants successfully solicited more than $2 million in stock purchases from victims.

*                *                *

In addition to a prison term, ORLEAN, 62, of Hauppauge, New York, was sentenced to three years of supervised release, ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $2,080,771, and ordered to pay a forfeiture money judgment in the amount of $883,700.

Vladimir Ziskind and Kevin Weinzoff, who each previously pled guilty to his participation in the scheme, await sentencing.

Mr. Berman praised the outstanding work of the FBI.

The prosecution of this case is being overseen by the Office’s Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Robert Boone and Andrew Thomas are in charge of the case.

Contact:
Jim Margolin, Nicholas Biase (212) 637-2600
Press Release Number:
20-057
Updated February 12, 2020

Rockland Seven Plead Guilty to “E-Rate” Fraud in Rockland County Schools

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Seven Defendants Plead Guilty To Defrauding Federal Program That Provided Technology Funding For Rockland County Schools

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today the guilty pleas of all seven defendants previously charged with defrauding the federal “E-Rate” program, designed to provide information technology to underprivileged schools, in connection with private religious schools in Rockland County, New York.  PERETZ KLEIN, SUSAN KLEIN, SIMON GOLDBRENER, MOSHE SCHWARTZ, BEN KLEIN, SHOLEM STEINBERG, and ARON MELBER, each pled guilty in White Plains federal court to one count of conspiring against the United States.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “Each of these defendants has now admitted his or her role in a massive scheme that stole millions of dollars from the E-Rate program.  That money should have been spent to help educate underprivileged children.  Instead, it went to line the defendants’ pockets.  Now they will answer for their crimes.”

According to the allegations made in the Indictment and the Informations to which the defendants pled guilty, as well as the defendants’ admissions in court:

The E-Rate program distributes funds to schools and libraries mostly serving economically disadvantaged children, so that those institutions can afford needed telecommunication services, internet access, and related equipment.  Over 30,000 applications from schools and libraries seeking funds to serve economically disadvantaged children were received each year during the relevant time period; every year, requests for E-Rate funds have exceeded funds available.  In order to obtain those funds, educational institutions certify that they are purchasing equipment and services from a private vendor; if approved, the program defrays the cost by up to 90%.  The educational institution is supposed to enter into an open bidding process in order to select a vendor, and the educational institution and vendor submit a series of certifications that they comply with a number of requirements of the E-Rate program.  A school applying for E-Rate funds may employ a consultant, but that consultant must be independent of the vendors competing to sell E-Rate funded equipment and services.

The schools at issue in this case never received millions of dollars’ worth of these items and services for which the defendants billed the E-Rate program.  In other cases, the schools and the defendants requested hundreds of thousands of dollars of sophisticated technology that served no real purpose for the student population.  For example, from 2009 through 2015, one day care center that served toddlers from the ages of 2 through 4 requested over $700,000 – nearly $500,000 of which was ultimately funded – for equipment and services – including video conferencing and distance learning, a “media master system,” sophisticated telecommunications systems supporting at least 23 lines, and high-speed internet – from companies controlled by certain defendants.  In still other instances, the schools received equipment and services that fulfilled the functions for which the schools had requested E-Rate funds (such as providing the school with internet access), but the schools and the defendants materially overbilled the E-Rate program for the items provided, in order to enrich themselves at the expense of the underprivileged children the program was designed to serve.

The defendants also perverted the fair and open bidding process required by the E‑Rate program.  Defendants who held themselves out as independent consultants working for the schools in truth worked for and were paid by other defendants who controlled vendor companies.  These defendants presented the schools with forms to sign or certify,

 

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Rockland County, Nearing a Breaking Point – Perhaps over-development is the problem [video]

 

A Tale of Two Rocklands

Note to readers:

The video is quite long, as is the write-up by its creators: “Clarkstown What They Don’t Want You to Know” a FB page.

CWTDWYTK has more recently been the subject of attempts by the New York political machine, including Attorney General Tish James to stymie criticism that could be viewed as anti-Semitic, without so much as a review of the subject matter of the posts.

As always, admittedly, the comments can vicious but the administrators on the page have done their best to limit anything that could be viewed as hate-speech.

Given the uptick in violence against Jewish communities, particularly those who have made themselves both excluded and visible, it might be time for us to look at the socio-economic, political and cultural makeup of the people within Rockland County to see where steps can be taken to bridge gaps. It is not anti-Semitism that has guided an uptick in violence, at least not in Rockland County. Rather than invoking an all-too-used familiar mantra of anti-Semitism, it might be time to put on our big-boy pants and start analyzing problems and coming up with solutions. Enforcing zoning laws might be a start.

Anti-Semitism as a cause celebre for allowing behavior that would otherwise be deemed wholly unacceptable has taken on a life of its own.

The video was initially posted in 2 parts on the FB site. We are reposting the write-ups about the video and invite you to see the page by clicking here.

Please note this is being posted with permissions. 

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