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

Copied from: NEW JERSEY REAL-TIME NEWS

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.” 

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Michael Cohen – Tax Investigation and NY AG

CBS NEWS:

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.

TO CONTINUE READING CBS NEWS CLICK HERE.

Letter to Redress Bond – A Platinum Idea – Mark Nordlicht and More

MarkNordlicht

THE PLATINUM PARTNER AND THE FEE FOR HIS FREEDOM – BUT WHAT ABOUT THE VICTIMS?

Mark Nordlicht has apparently written a letter to the court asking for a reduction in Bond. We cannot publish the letter here because it is available on the PACER site for a fee. We have provided the links since August 6th. You will likely need to pay a fee to view the documents.
369
08/06/2018
Letter in Further Opposition to Defendant Mark Nordlicht’s Application to Travel as to Mark Nordlicht
370
08/07/2018
Letter in Response to Government’s Opposition as to Mark Nordlicht
372
08/08/2018
Letter by the government, dated August 8, 2018, requesting that the Court schedule a status conference regarding the defendant Mark Nordlicht’s bond and his travel to Israel as to Mark Nordlicht
08/09/2018
SCHEDULING ORDER as to Mark Nordlicht re 372 Letter. Status Conference set for 8/10/2018 at 9:45 AM in Courtroom 8D South. Ordered by Judge Brian M. Cogan on 8/9/2018. (Text entry; no document attached.)
373
08/09/2018
Letter Request to Appear Telephonically at August 10th Status Hearing as to Mark Nordlicht
08/09/2018
ORDER as to Mark Nordlicht re 373 Letter requesting to appear by telephone. Application Granted. Defense counsel shall call chambers at 718-613-2230 at the scheduled time. Ordered by Judge Brian M. Cogan on 8/9/2018. (Text entry; no document attached.)
374
08/09/2018
Letter Response to Government’s August 9th Request for Status Hearing as to Mark Nordlicht
08/10/2018
Minute Entry for Status Conference as to Mark Nordlicht held on 8/10/2018 before Judge Brian M. Cogan. AUSAs Lauren Elbert and Patrick Hein. Defense Counsel: Lisabeth Fryer and Ronald Sullivan by telephone. Counsel waives their client’s appearance for reasons stated on the record. (Court Reporter Sophie Nolan.) (Text entry; no document attached.)
378
08/16/2018
Letter Notice of Hearing on Government’s Motion to Readdress Bond as to Mark Nordlicht
08/16/2018
SCHEDULING ORDER as to Mark Nordlicht re 378 Letter. Hearing on Government’s Motion to Readdress Bond set for 8/23/2018 at 4:30 PM in Courtroom 8D South. Ordered by Judge Brian M. Cogan on 8/16/2018. (Text entry; no document attached.)

Mensch and Eagle Scout – Martin Shkreli’s Lawyer Sentenced to 18 Months

Martin Shkreli’s Company Lawyer Sentenced to 18 Months for Fraud

Martin Shkreli’s cohort in crime may be a “mensch” and an Eagle Scout who’s devoted his life to serving others, but that didn’t save Evan Greebel from a prison sentence for aiding the Pharma Bro in an $11 million fraud.

Greebel on Friday was ordered to serve 18 months behind bars for conspiring with Shkreli, as U.S. District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto in Brooklyn, New York, turned aside his plea to remain free.

I will regret every day of my life the day that I met Martin Shkreli,” Greebel told the judge. “I’m begging for this court’s mercy to give me the lowest possible sentence.”

Greebel was convicted last year of helping Shkreli steal $11 million to repay investors after the hedge-fund-manager-turned-drug-executive, lost their money in risky trades. Greebel, a New York attorney, was the outside counsel to Retrophin Inc., which Shkreli co-founded.

Shkreli’s Ex-Lawyer Convicted of Aiding Him in Fraud Schemes

The judge also ordered Greebel to pay $10.5 million in restitution to Retrophin and to forfeit $116,000. Ironically, Shkreli didn’t have to pay restitution to the company because he was cleared of the counts that would trigger the payment.

“He is not feckless. He is not naive. He is not inexperienced,” Matsumoto said. “And he was not led astray by a young, brash CEO.”

Shkreli, 35, was sentenced in March to seven years in prison after a separate trial. He became notorious in 2015 while serving as chief executive of Turing Pharmaceuticals, which he started after being ousted from Retrophin a year earlier. At Turing, he hiked the price of a life-saving drug by more than 5,000 percent. The controversial price increase was unrelated to the criminal case against both men.

Greebel was convicted of conspiring with Shkreli by helping him devise sham settlements and consulting contracts to pay investors with assets from Retrophin, and orchestrating a scheme to control company’s shares.

‘Good Person’ Shkreli Meets ‘Mythical’ Fraud in Sentencing

“Never in my life did I think that I’d be standing in a federal courtroom at my own criminal sentencing,” Greebel told Matsumoto. “It’s the deepest shame I’ve ever experienced in my life.”

He’s a “mensch, and a very solid one,” Greebel’s lawyers wrote in a court filing. Defense lawyers said Greebel faced two years in prison under federal sentencing guidelines, but that his humanitarian work is a basis to spare him from serving any jail time.

 

To read the remainder of the article click here:

Nordlicht and Huberfeld Dumping Properties – if the SEC is going to get it, Let’s Spend it First

NORDLICHT AND HUBERFELD AND THE PROPERTY DUMP – 19.5$ FOR THE TAKING… SEC…?

PLATINUM’S PARTNERS ARE AT IT AGAIN, DUMPING PROPERTIES…

It is no secret that we feel that Huberfeld and Nordlicht and their “Platinum Partners” were serial schemers. They have, over a long and sordid history, increased their individual and collective wealth through a series of well-played investments in the stupidity or naivete of their victims. We have to give them credit… manipulating markets at well as you manipulate people and then enshrouding it all in a reputation of “Philanthropy.”

In the latest of twits and turns, they are dumping properties. Were we to be the rainmakers at the SEC and the IRS, we would be freezing these properties so they cannot be sold. Unfortunately, we are mere mortals and do not have the appropriate clout. But we are hoping perhaps someone is reading.

Between West 85th Street & West 86th Street   |    Riverside Dr./West End Ave. 

For More InformationAre you ready to tour 535 West End Avenue?Contact

Key Details

  • Condominium
  • Built in 2009
  • 29 Apartments
  • 20 Floors
$2,293

APARTMENTS FOR SALE –

There are a pair of 535 West End Avenue apartments in New York City up for sale by Huberfeld and Nordlicht:

The apartments are #10 and #15:
https://www.cityrealty.com/nyc/riverside-dr-west-end-ave/535-west-end-avenue/6164

The first apartment is owned by Laura Huberfeld — Wife of Murry Huberfeld of Platinum Partners and the Seabrook bribery case:
http://www.city-data.com/ny-properties/assessments/Manhattan/W/West-End-Avenue-89.html

The second apartment is owned by Mark Nordlicht of Platinum Partners — but it’s in a holding corp:
http://www.city-data.com/ny-properties/assessments/Manhattan/W/West-End-Avenue-90.html

Other Info
Mark Nordlicht sold his Bal Harbour Condo last year for close to $8M:
https://therealdeal.com/miami/2017/05/22/wife-of-alleged-hedge-fund-fraudster-sells-bal-harbour-condo-for-7-85m/

As of this past December, Mark Nordlicht and other Platinum executives had ‘exhausted’ at least $10 Million on their defense:
https://law.justia.com/cases/new-york/other-courts/2017/2017-ny-slip-op-32728-u.html

Mark Nordlicht just switched to his third (?) set of attorneys, Jose Baez:
https://www.law360.com/articles/1056757/platinum-boss-parts-with-quinn-emanuel-adds-celeb-lawyer

Our speculation:

The legal fees are building up or are anticipated to be very high — hence the need to sell the NY apartments.  As you recall Mark Nordlicht and associates are first facing a Criminal suit from the Federal Government and then following that case, the SEC wants to clawback $100 Million is management fees charged to clients of the failed Platinum Partners hedge fund (https://www.justice.gov/usao-edny/pr/platinum-partners-founder-and-chief-investment-officer-among-five-indicted-1-billion)

Guess it’s better to sell the apartments and spend the money on a legal defense then possibly lose the SEC trial and have the government take it.

Bottom line, a couple of lucky buyers may get a good deal on a high end condo in NYC!

 

Pinchus Feldman – Australian Royal Council – A Victory for HARRY Triguboff

All posts tagged Rabbi Pinchus Feldman

Judge finds for Triguboff

HARRY Triguboff had a huge win in the NSW Supreme Court this week when Justice Rowan Darke ruled that members of the Feldman family did not establish their “rights of possession or occupation” to Triguboff’s property on Flood Street.

Feldmans stay . . . for now

The Feldman family will remain at Yeshiva’s Flood Street property for at least another week.

Feldman takes Triguboff to court

RABBI Pinchus Feldman, whose organisations have received millions of dollars from Harry Triguboff over the last few decades, took him to court last week.

Feldman, Triguboff saga continues

FOUR weeks after Rabbi Yosef Feldman appeared to compare Yeshiva major donor Harry Triguboff to the Nazis, his father, Rabbi Pinchus Feldman has finally distanced himself from the comments.

End of an era for Flood Street

Rabbi Pinchus Feldman will leave the premises of the Yeshiva Centre in Flood Street, Bondi in any official capacity for the final time in less than two weeks.

Pinchus pitches for Strathfield’s millions

The Sydney Talmudic College Association (STCA), of which Rabbi Pinchus Feldman is the dean and spiritual leader, could be in for a multi-million dollar windfall.

Feldman ‘dropped the ball’

Rabbi Pinchus Feldman admitted last week that he had “dropped the ball” because he still didn’t know the details of Sydney Yeshiva Centre’s child protection policies.

Triguboff: ‘I’ll never give Feldman another lease’

Rabbi Pinchus Feldman’s days at Flood Street seem numbered after an amazing exchange between members of his family and Harry Triguboff in the last week.

RCNSW could vote on Feldman membership

All members of the Rabbinic Council of NSW could have an opportunity to vote on the status of Rabbi Pinchus Feldman as an RCNSW member.

RCNSW urged to drop Pinchus Feldman

The future of Rabbi Pinchus Feldman as a member of the Rabbinical Council of New South Wales hangs in the balance after a formal complaint was lodged against him.

Lakewood’s Civic Leaders, Negotiating Better Treatment – Amnesty for the Orthodox

From the Asbury Park Press:

Lakewood fraud: Vaad met with N.J. officials before amnesty deal

LAKEWOOD – Jewish Orthodox civic leaders had exclusive access to state officials during the planning of a controversial county-wide Medicaid fraud amnesty offer — a program critics say caters to Lakewood’s Orthodox community, the Asbury Park Press has learned.

State officials on Thursday said the only community group they met with as they formed the amnesty program was the Vaad, Lakewood’s politically influential council of local Orthodox Jewish religious and business leaders. Local African American and Latino groups told the Asbury Park Press that they were not asked for their views on amnesty.

The meeting’s disclosure comes as criticism has intensified about the amnesty program that was launched after 26 in Lakewood were charged in June and July in a public assistance fraud sweep.

The defendants — accused of taking more than a combined $2 million in public assistance they weren’t entitled to — include a rabbi and his brother, business owners, students and housewives from the township’s religious enclave.

After plans were announced to rent out the 3,200-seat Pine Belt Arena in Toms River to hold an amnesty “informational” program, the Vaad publicly endorsed the program.

But fewer than 40 people showed up for that Sept. 12 session, and State Comptroller Philip Degnan, who is overseeing the program, demurred when asked by an attendee if he had “reached out to rabbis” for their support.

“We have reached out to a number of community groups. We have had meetings with a number of community groups. I’m not going to talk about which ones,” Degnan replied.

More: New APP columnist: Why not use Medicaid amnesty for immigration?

More: Lakewood Medicaid cheats stay home; amnesty meeting attracts few

More: Lakewood fraud arrests spur amnesty program for Medicaid cheats

More: Lakewood schools looking to reduce special ed litigation spending

On Thursday, Degnan in an emailed statement said his office’s Medicaid Fraud Division “was solely responsible for conceiving of and developing what has become the Ocean County Medicaid Recipient Voluntary Disclosure Pilot Program.”

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Degnan said officials met with the Vaad and also had meetings with the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, the Ocean County Board of Social Services, and representatives of other prosecutor’s offices and law enforcement agencies.

No religious restrictions

The Medicaid amnesty reprieve doesn’t have race or religious restrictions but is only open to residents of Ocean County.

Leaders of non-Orthodox groups in Lakewood say the amnesty opportunity came as a surprise to them.

“Nothing to us at all. No one reached out,” said Alejandra Morales, president of La Voz Latina, which supports immigrant rights.

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Pastor Glenn Wilson, whose church in Howell has a congregation of largely black and Latino worshipers who come from neighboring Lakewood, said state officials didn’t contact him nor church members – and he called the amnesty “a slap in the face to all people of all groups.”

Wilson also heads Lakewood UNITE (United Neighbors Improving Today’s Equality), a group that advocates for the township’s public school students.

“Amnesty is something you give to people who don’t know they were making a mistake. I have the same sense that the general public has that Medicaid fraud is probably not often done by mistake,” he said. “I know of people who were denied services for programs just by being over an income limit by a few dollars. The rules weren’t bent for them or by them.”

Degnan in his statement said his office “is willing to attend informational meetings with interested community groups in Ocean County at any time during the 90-day program.”

Vaad leaders in an emailed statement didn’t address questions about the group’s role in planning.

“The program continues to have the Vaad’s support as another tool to encourage greater compliance with the program’s rules,” said Vaad spokesman Rabbi Moshe Weisberg.

State officials concede it’s the first time such an undertaking has been targeted to a specific area.

“We’ve offered this program because, based on our Medicaid fraud investigations in Ocean County, we believe there may be a larger problem in that county,” said Degnan, a 2015 appointee of Gov. Chris Christie. “This is an opportunity to bring a significant number of people into compliance. That’s our goal.”

“We have not seen it in any other state,” he said. “As far as we know, it’s a fairly unique program.”

Degnan’s office audits government finances, programs and contracts and has a Medicaid Fraud Division.

‘We would be hung’

Lakewood resident Mami Quinonez, 61, is among critics who say the program selectively gives a pass to Orthodox Jews at a time when New Jersey has the nation’s highest racial disparity in incarceration rates.

Quinonez, 61, a native of Puerto Rico who describes herself as a “community activist,” said allowing others in the township who’ve wrongly received Medicaid benefits to avoid criminal charges is being done “because there are so many of them and their votes give them influence.”

“If an Afro-American, Puerto Rican, Mexican or Caucasian did what they did, we would be hung,” Quinonez said. “We would have went straight to the federal prison.”

Lakewood’s population topped 100,000 in the most recent U.S. Census estimate and Orthodox residents now account for more than half of that figure, community leaders say, though no official statistics are available.

The offer runs until Dec. 12. Degnan said it’s a “pilot program” and that it could be available in other counties in the future.

Last week the Root online magazine — a popular black news and culture site — posted a story titled: “White People Commit Welfare Fraud, State Creates Amnesty Program so They Won’t Go to Jail.”

Author Monique Judge wrote, “Religious leaders in the town support the program because it will let participants avoid prosecution. … Will this happen in a predominantly black town in New Jersey as well, or nah? Asking for black people everywhere.”

The Forward, another online site that says it offers “news that matters to American Jews,” also weighed in with a story titled, “Lakewood Medicaid Fraudsters Get Amnesty – Proving Jews Are On The White Side Of The Law.

Author Helen Leshinsky wrote that reactions to the program on social media “seemed to come in three categories. There were those who decried the program on ‘Law and Order’ grounds, claiming all criminals should be charged. Then there was the downright anti-Semitic response, clamoring that Jews are getting preferential treatment.

“Finally, there was the double standard argument coming from people of color, to whom the law has never been this lenient and humane. The first two can be dismissed, but the latter cannot be ignored.”

Blacks make up about 15 percent of New Jersey’s population but more than 60 percent of the state’s prison population, according to a report from the Washington, D.C.-based Sentencing Project.

There were 3,803 arrests for fraud in New Jersey in 2015 — the latest year available from the State Police Uniform Crime Report — with 55 percent of persons arrested white, 42 percent black, and 3 percent other races. The Hispanic ethnic origin accounted for 20 percent of the arrests.

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More: Lakewood development: Residents’ complaints delay master plan vote

Residents of Newark, Camden, Paterson and other cities “where the racial makeup of the populations are very different” could use a similar boost with “not amnesty, but stepped-up state support for things like prisoner reentry programs and transition shelters,” said Fred Rush, president of Ocean County’s NAACP chapter.

“In the cities where you have a different racial makeup, they might have gun buyback programs, but those are open to anybody,” Rush said. “To be honest, when I heard there was Medicaid fraud amnesty for Ocean County, I thought it was a scam. Why would they do that? And why does it seem it’s geared to one religion?”

Self-reporting vs. court cases

NJ FamilyCare, a Medicaid insurance program funded by both federal and state dollars, covers children 18 and under who have no other insurance in families with incomes up to 355 percent of the federal poverty level – as an example, in a family of four the income limit would be $87,336 year, but the income limit for parents to qualify is $33,948.

Degnan said having public assistance cheaters self-report makes more sense than pursuing court cases, which can tap the government’s limited manpower for investigations.

The amnesty terms of settlements call for full restitution payments, plus additional penalties, and voluntary withdrawal from Medicaid for a one-year period. After the amnesty offer expires Dec. 12, prosecutions will resume as needed, Degnan said.

The Office of the State Comptroller’s Medicaid Fraud Division says it opened 407 cases for investigation and made 32 referrals to law enforcement agencies last year. The division also said it received 1,962 telephone fraud hotline tips.

Degnan noted that prosecuting public assistance cheats doesn’t typically result in jail time. First-time offenders in many instances are offered pre-trial intervention, a probationary program that results in dismissal of charges upon completion, he said.

On Sept. 12, at the Pine Belt Arena in Toms River, an information session on how to apply for amnesty attracted only about three dozen people. Degnan spokesman Jeffrey Lamm said applications to the program can be submitted online, but information about the number of applicants won’t be available until the program is over in December.

LAKEWOOD – Jewish Orthodox civic leaders had exclusive access to state officials during the planning of a controversial county-wide Medicaid fraud amnesty offer — a program critics say caters to Lakewood’s Orthodox community, the Asbury Park Press has learned.

State officials on Thursday said the only community group they met with as they formed the amnesty program was the Vaad, Lakewood’s politically influential council of local Orthodox Jewish religious and business leaders. Local African American and Latino groups told the Asbury Park Press that they were not asked for their views on amnesty.

The meeting’s disclosure comes as criticism has intensified about the amnesty program that was launched after 26 in Lakewood were charged in June and July in a public assistance fraud sweep.

The defendants — accused of taking more than a combined $2 million in public assistance they weren’t entitled to — include a rabbi and his brother, business owners, students and housewives from the township’s religious enclave.

After plans were announced to rent out the 3,200-seat Pine Belt Arena in Toms River to hold an amnesty “informational” program, the Vaad publicly endorsed the program.

But fewer than 40 people showed up for that Sept. 12 session, and State Comptroller Philip Degnan, who is overseeing the program, demurred when asked by an attendee if he had “reached out to rabbis” for their support.

“We have reached out to a number of community groups. We have had meetings with a number of community groups. I’m not going to talk about which ones,” Degnan replied.

On Thursday, Degnan in an emailed statement said his office’s Medicaid Fraud Division “was solely responsible for conceiving of and developing what has become the Ocean County Medicaid Recipient Voluntary Disclosure Pilot Program.”

Degnan said officials met with the Vaad and also had meetings with the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, the Ocean County Board of Social Services, and representatives of other prosecutor’s offices and law enforcement agencies.

No religious restrictions

The Medicaid amnesty reprieve doesn’t have race or religious restrictions but is only open to residents of Ocean County.

Leaders of non-Orthodox groups in Lakewood say the amnesty opportunity came as a surprise to them.

“Nothing to us at all. No one reached out,” said Alejandra Morales, president of La Voz Latina, which supports immigrant rights.

Pastor Glenn Wilson, whose church in Howell has a congregation of largely black and Latino worshipers who come from neighboring Lakewood, said state officials didn’t contact him nor church members – and he called the amnesty “a slap in the face to all people of all groups.”

Wilson also heads Lakewood UNITE (United Neighbors Improving Today’s Equality), a group that advocates for the township’s public school students.

“Amnesty is something you give to people who don’t know they were making a mistake. I have the same sense that the general public has that Medicaid fraud is probably not often done by mistake,” he said. “I know of people who were denied services for programs just by being over an income limit by a few dollars. The rules weren’t bent for them or by them.”

Degnan in his statement said his office “is willing to attend informational meetings with interested community groups in Ocean County at any time during the 90-day program.”

Vaad leaders in an emailed statement didn’t address questions about the group’s role in planning.

“The program continues to have the Vaad’s support as another tool to encourage greater compliance with the program’s rules,” said Vaad spokesman Rabbi Moshe Weisberg.

State officials concede it’s the first time such an undertaking has been targeted to a specific area.

“We’ve offered this program because, based on our Medicaid fraud investigations in Ocean County, we believe there may be a larger problem in that county,” said Degnan, a 2015 appointee of Gov. Chris Christie. “This is an opportunity to bring a significant number of people into compliance. That’s our goal.”

“We have not seen it in any other state,” he said. “As far as we know, it’s a fairly unique program.”

Degnan’s office audits government finances, programs and contracts and has a Medicaid Fraud Division.

‘We would be hung’

Lakewood resident Mami Quinonez, 61, is among critics who say the program selectively gives a pass to Orthodox Jews at a time when New Jersey has the nation’s highest racial disparity in incarceration rates.

Quinonez, 61, a native of Puerto Rico who describes herself as a “community activist,” said allowing others in the township who’ve wrongly received Medicaid benefits to avoid criminal charges is being done “because there are so many of them and their votes give them influence.”

“If an Afro-American, Puerto Rican, Mexican or Caucasian did what they did, we would be hung,” Quinonez said. “We would have went straight to the federal prison.”

Lakewood’s population topped 100,000 in the most recent U.S. Census estimate and Orthodox residents now account for more than half of that figure, community leaders say, though no official statistics are available.

The offer runs until Dec. 12. Degnan said it’s a “pilot program” and that it could be available in other counties in the future.

Last week the Root online magazine — a popular black news and culture site — posted a story titled: “White People Commit Welfare Fraud, State Creates Amnesty Program so They Won’t Go to Jail.”

Author Monique Judge wrote, “Religious leaders in the town support the program because it will let participants avoid prosecution. … Will this happen in a predominantly black town in New Jersey as well, or nah? Asking for black people everywhere.”

The Forward, another online site that says it offers “news that matters to American Jews,” also weighed in with a story titled, “Lakewood Medicaid Fraudsters Get Amnesty – Proving Jews Are On The White Side Of The Law.

Author Helen Leshinsky wrote that reactions to the program on social media “seemed to come in three categories. There were those who decried the program on ‘Law and Order’ grounds, claiming all criminals should be charged. Then there was the downright anti-Semitic response, clamoring that Jews are getting preferential treatment.

“Finally, there was the double standard argument coming from people of color, to whom the law has never been this lenient and humane. The first two can be dismissed, but the latter cannot be ignored.”

Blacks make up about 15 percent of New Jersey’s population but more than 60 percent of the state’s prison population, according to a report from the Washington, D.C.-based Sentencing Project.

There were 3,803 arrests for fraud in New Jersey in 2015 — the latest year available from the State Police Uniform Crime Report — with 55 percent of persons arrested white, 42 percent black, and 3 percent other races. The Hispanic ethnic origin accounted for 20 percent of the arrests.

Residents of Newark, Camden, Paterson and other cities “where the racial makeup of the populations are very different” could use a similar boost with “not amnesty, but stepped-up state support for things like prisoner reentry programs and transition shelters,” said Fred Rush, president of Ocean County’s NAACP chapter.

“In the cities where you have a different racial makeup, they might have gun buyback programs, but those are open to anybody,” Rush said. “To be honest, when I heard there was Medicaid fraud amnesty for Ocean County, I thought it was a scam. Why would they do that? And why does it seem it’s geared to one religion?”

Self-reporting vs. court cases

NJ FamilyCare, a Medicaid insurance program funded by both federal and state dollars, covers children 18 and under who have no other insurance in families with incomes up to 355 percent of the federal poverty level – as an example, in a family of four the income limit would be $87,336 year, but the income limit for parents to qualify is $33,948.

Degnan said having public assistance cheaters self-report makes more sense than pursuing court cases, which can tap the government’s limited manpower for investigations.

The amnesty terms of settlements call for full restitution payments, plus additional penalties, and voluntary withdrawal from Medicaid for a one-year period. After the amnesty offer expires Dec. 12, prosecutions will resume as needed, Degnan said.

The Office of the State Comptroller’s Medicaid Fraud Division says it opened 407 cases for investigation and made 32 referrals to law enforcement agencies last year. The division also said it received 1,962 telephone fraud hotline tips.

Degnan noted that prosecuting public assistance cheats doesn’t typically result in jail time. First-time offenders in many instances are offered pre-trial intervention, a probationary program that results in dismissal of charges upon completion, he said.

On Sept. 12, at the Pine Belt Arena in Toms River, an information session on how to apply for amnesty attracted only about three dozen people. Degnan spokesman Jeffrey Lamm said applications to the program can be submitted online, but information about the number of applicants won’t be available until the program is over in December.