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.

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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.

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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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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.

Where there’s a Diamond, A Benny Steinmetz and Fake Contracts… There’s a Fraudy

Beny Steinmetz, the Israeli diamond mining magnate, was taken into custody by Israeli police on Monday on suspicion of fraud, obstruction of justice and bribery.

The 61-year-old billionaire, who is one of Israel’s wealthiest men, was detained alongside four other suspects as part of a joint international investigation by Israeli, Swiss and US authorities.

Israeli police gave few details of the allegations but said the five men were suspected of creating fake contracts to move and launder money.

Detectives raided the men’s homes and offices and a judge granted police permission to detain Mr Steinmetz until Thursday for questioning.

Steinmetz, who founded the BSG Resources (BSGR) mining company, denies any wrongdoing.

Appearing before a magistrate’s court in central Israel, the businessman hit out at Israeli investigators and George Soros, the Hungarian-American investor with whom he has had a long-time rivalry.

“I feel terrible that the state of Israel is doing this to me. This is customary in totalitarian states. It’s like a dictatorship that decides and marks people,” Mr Steinmetz said.

“There is nothing, the whole investigation is nothing. There are those who have marked us here. It’s political. George Soros marked me. We did not do anything.”

Mr Steinmetz has not been charged with a crime. A spokesman declined to comment.

Police said in a statement that the men were detained on suspicion of money laundering, fraud, forgery, obstruction of justice and bribery.

The police raids on Monday were the latest in a long string of legal troubles for Mr Steinmetz, who lives mainly in Geneva and has dual Israeli-French citizenship.

Israeli police placed him under house arrest for two weeks in December 2016 on suspicion of bribing officials in the the west African country of Guinea to advance BSGR’s business interests.

car in Guinea
The Simandou project in Guinea has been stalled for years

The house arrest was lifted in January and he was released without charge but on the conditions that he hand over a 100 million shekel (£21m ) guarantee and not leave Israel  for six months.

BSGR gained access to half of Guinea’s giant iron ore seam, known as Simandou, in 2008 after paying a small amount for the mining rights. It later sold half its concession to Brazilian mining giant Vale for $2.5bn, although just $500m was paid.

Simandou is thought to be the world’s richest untapped deposit of iron ore, used in steel. The deposit had been wholly owned by FTSE 100 giant Rio Tinto until BSGR’s arrival.

The Guinean government stripped BSGR of its access in 2014 after concluding that it had bribed its way to the rights.

BSGR denies any wrongdoing and has threatened to file a lawsuit against Mr Soros, accusing him of orchestrating a defamation campaign against the company and encouraging Guinea to strip it of the Simandou rights. Mr Soros’s representatives have dismissed Mr Steinmetz’s claims as a “PR stunt”.

Asher Avidan, a former president of BSGR in Guinea, was taken into custody alongside Mr Steinmetz. Mr Avidan was also placed under house arrest and released in January.

Among the others detained were Tal Silberstein, a prominent Israeli political consultant, and David Granot, the acting chairman of Israeli telecoms giant Bezeq.

Mr Silberstein had been doing polling work for Austria’s Social Democratic Party ahead of parliamentary elections in October but the party cut ties with him after learning of his detention in Israel.

Bezeq said in a statement that Mr Granot’s detention was “not related to the company”.

A Little Lax, Perhaps? Ivanka and A Lax Friendship, Oh.. and Diamonds…

The Trouble With Ivanka’s Business Partner

The first daughter’s longtime friend and associate is falling afoul of his creditors—and the courts.

From POLITICO

His vendors call him a “career grifter.” His father’s creditors claim he’s a fraud and a serial extortionist who shakes people down with trumped-up threats of criminal charges. With these and other allegations piling up in court records along with judgments—against him, his wife and his businesses—for millions of dollars, his lawyers are abandoning him, saying he’s a deadbeat. All the while, he’s been living in one of the most luxurious mansions in the Bronx.

Meet Ivanka Trump’s longtime friend, matchmaker and business partner, Moshe Lax.

For the past decade, Lax, a 43-year-old New York diamond heir and entrepreneur, has been Trump’s partner in Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry, the first major venture of her business career.

Trump and her family have continued to associate with Lax even as his legal problems have mounted and Trump has been dragged into Lax’s business disputes. On election night, Lax and his wife stood at the front of the ballroom at the Trump campaign’s victory party in New York, and Lax went on to visit Trump Tower during the transition, while Tiffany Trump attended the launch party for a new Lax venture in February. Ivanka Trump has even continued to rely on Lax’s advice in recent years: In depositions they gave for an unrelated case last summer, both Trump and her brother, Don Jr., cited advice they received from Lax in assessing another business partner.

And according to court records, Trump renewed her licensing agreement with Lax in 2011, allowing him to continue using her name even after his company defaulted on payments and he violated numerous terms of their agreement.

“He cheated not just us, he also cheated Ivanka,” says Mahipal Singhvi of KGK, a company that was recently awarded a multimillion-dollar judgment against Lax, his wife and their businesses after they kept, but did not pay for, a large shipment of KGK diamonds.

Trump’s relationship with Lax and the mountain of legal and financial troubles—reported here for the first time based on dozens of interviews and public records—raise serious questions about the first daughter’s judgment, even as she continues to serve as a powerful White House adviser. In response to detailed questions sent to the White House and the Trump Organization, White House spokesman Josh Raffel requested more information about this article but did not provide comment. Following publication, a person close to Trump contacted POLITICO Magazine to say Lax was not a “close friend” of hers, and Trump Organization general counsel Alan Garten wrote in an email that the Trump family business “is still owed a significant amount of money” from Lax after terminating its licensing deal with him at the end of last year

Lax initially agreed to a telephone interview about his relationship with Trump, but then said he might be traveling to Washington imminently and would prefer to meet in person. In response to an email listing detailed questions about the judgments and allegations against him, Lax responded that he was the victim of a blackmail and extortion scheme by one of his creditors.

“I do have all the hard evidence that this is an extortion case for money,” he wrote. “I will pursue criminally.” Lax declined to elaborate, and POLITICO Magazine is withholding the name of the creditor, for lack of any evidence of wrongdoing.

***

Lax grew up in Brooklyn the son of a diamond magnate with a sideline in real estate. He began his partnership with Trump a decade ago when both were rich kids looking to make their mark in the world of business. In 2007, Lax approached Trump pitching her on a land deal in Fort Myers, Florida.

Trump found herself drawn to Lax, seeing him as a kindred spirit. “Moshe was looking to take his business to a whole new level,” she recounts in “The Trump Card,” a 2010 memoir in which the entire final chapter is devoted to her partnership with Lax. “In that way, I suppose, we were a lot alike, trying to make our own way along a path set out for us by our fathers and trying to extend that path in exciting new directions, which I guess explains why we hit it off.”

Lax was not the only person Trump would hit it off with through the proposed deal. Soon after meeting Trump, he called a meeting of real estate heirs to discuss business opportunities at Prime Grill, a steakhouse across the street from Trump Tower, according to an April profile of Lax in Mishpacha, a magazine serving the Orthodox Jewish diaspora. At Lax’s networking lunch, Trump met her future husband, Jared Kushner, for the first time (in the profile, Lax joked that it was a “state secret” whether he received a matchmaking fee and said he had gained an appreciation for President Donald Trump’s “decency” and “sense of humor” by working with him up close).

The real estate deal went nowhere, but Trump and Lax soon embarked on a more promising venture together. At the time, Lax had a steady supply of diamonds from his family’s business, but was having trouble differentiating his product. Trump had a famous name with which to brand jewelry and ideas about how to create a shopping experience geared toward working women buying for themselves—a break from other diamond retailers that catered to husbands and boyfriends.

The pair decided to embark on a joint business venture, Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry, converting Lax’s retail space on Madison Avenue into their flagship boutique.

According to Trump’s memoir, the partnership was a home run. “As of now, in this tough economy, we’re doing very well,” she wrote in 2010. “Actually we’re doing better than ‘very well’ … We’ve succeeded beyond my wildest expectations.”

But beneath the rosy picture Trump painted in public, there were a number of problems. In June 2011, Trump and Lax entered into a new licensing agreement. This agreement, which has since surfaced in litigation, states that Lax’s company defaulted on licensing payments to Trump and that Lax or his company committed numerous violations of the original deal, including entering into unauthorized sublicensing agreements and failing to keep accurate records. The agreement charges Lax’s company $300,000 per year and 36 percent of net proceeds for the right to use Trump’s name.

Despite those problems, Trump remained in business with Lax as troubles kept piling up.

In 2012, Lax’s company, Madison Avenue Diamonds, found itself in court after it accepted delivery of millions of dollars in diamonds but refused to pay for them, claiming that the vendor, KGK, had breached their agreement by delivering some computer files related to the diamonds late. Lax was represented by David Scharf of Morrison Cohen, who in the past had done extensive legal work for the Trump Organization (the firm later went to court with the Trump Organization over half a million dollars in disputed legal fees).

The diamond dispute entangled Trump in a web of litigation against her will. At one point, Judge Charles Ramos became agitated with Trump’s attempts to avoid testifying about her relationship with Lax.

Ramos expressed special annoyance at the fact that Trump submitted an affidavit from her lawyer in an attempt to quash a subpoena, rather than submitting one herself. “You know something, if she does not want to testify she can tell me she doesn’t want to testify,” Ramos said at a hearing on the matter. “She has not done that. She does it through counsel? Thanks a lot. The deposition will go forward.” Trump also made the unusual request that the deposition take place at her office in Trump Tower, which the judge denied.

At her deposition, Trump’s lawyer revealed that in addition to her licensing agreement with Lax, Trump had an ownership stake in Madison Avenue Diamonds through an entity called IHoldings Madison LLC. It’s not clear how large a share of the company Trump held, or for how long. In the personal financial disclosure she made this year upon entering the White House, Trump says she served as president of IHoldings Madison until this May.

In 2015, the court ordered Lax’s company and his wife, Shaindy—who had personally guaranteed payment of the diamonds and in whose name Lax conducts many of his financial dealings—to pay the stiffed vendor $2.4 million plus interest. Singvhi of KGK says the company has still not received the payments due, which at this point amount to $3.5 million.

In the meantime, Lax has had other problems.

***

In 2008, Lax’s father died, leaving him as co-executor of a vast estate. But his father also left vast debts, including $27 million owed to the IRS and a multimillion-dollar loan guaranteed by the Brooklyn real estate developers Joseph Brunner and Abe Mandel.

The fallout from that loan has led to some of the most disturbing charges against Lax: that he has been extorting members of his tight-knit religious community, threatening to bring criminal charges against them if they do not pay him—and that he engaged in a massive financial fraud to hide tens of millions of dollars left by his father from the government and creditors.

In 2014, Brunner and Mandel sued Lax, his wife, his brother-in-law Martin Ehrenfeld, his father’s estate, his father’s family trust and various corporate entities, claiming the defendants had used a series of shell corporations to hide Lax’s father’s money and avoid paying his father’s debts. The developers say that before his death, Lax’s father showed them documentation that his net worth was $174 million. According to their complaint, Lax and his co-defendants managed to make the fortune disappear—so that when creditors came calling, the estate had no assets to repossess.

The developers also claimed that Lax attempted to extort them in a scheme to avoid paying on the debts. In a sworn affidavit, Mandel said he received a call from Scharf in March 2014 informing him that a legal complaint was being prepared that would “destroy” him and Brunner and inviting him to a follow-up meeting to discuss the issue at Scharf’s office.

At the meeting, Scharf allegedly told the developers that his client was working with a former prosecutor, was prepared to accuse them of racketeering and would demand $20 million in damages—that is, unless they negotiated with Lax and his brother-in-law “to make this go away.”

In the affidavit, Mandel also said that a private intelligence firm had been approaching his business and personal contacts, telling them Mandel and his partner were under investigation and telling a charity he had given to that his gift was made with “stolen funds.” The developers submitted business card from the firm Sage Intelligence bearing the name Herman Weisberg, a former New York Police Department detective, that had been left with one of their acquaintances. Weisberg declined to comment for this story.

The developers said they were not the only victims, and that the defendants had been engaging in a “pattern and practice” of extorting and trying to extort other members of the Orthodox Jewish community, to which all involved belong, through “sham” entities called Diligence I LLC and Prudence LLC.

“Brunner and I inquired in our community about Scharf, Lax and Ehrenfeld,” states Mandel in a sworn affidavit. “We learned that they have been shaking down other people in our community for large settlement payments by threatening criminal actions.”

The Laxes and Ehrenfeld have denied wrongdoing. Scharf and his firm, who were never named as defendants, also deny any wrongdoing. Morrison Cohen has since withdrawn as counsel for Lax’s father’s estate, citing a conflict of interest (in June, the firm also withdrew from the KGK case, saying Lax and Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry had failed pay them).

Morrison Cohen’s withdrawal was just one of many bizarre turns the Brunner and Mandel case has taken. At one point, an attorney for Diligence claimed not to know who actually controlled the shell corporation he was representing. At another point, Lax claimed not to know the original identities of the lenders for the loan under dispute.

Judge Shirley Kornreich later concluded that Lax was lying, and over the course of the case she grew increasingly frustrated with such shenanigans. “A theme in this case is the pleading of ignorance by defendants and their counsel,” she wrote in one court order, listing off assertions that she did not find credible.

In June 2015, the lawyer for Diligence, Steven Schlesinger, withdrew from the case, saying his client had failed to communicate with him and had stiffed him on $85,000 worth of legal fees. Diligence then got a replacement lawyer, David Jaroslawicz, but he also withdrew from the case this January.

In his request to abandon the case, Jaroslawicz said he had been retained by someone named Elridge Glasford running a corporate services firm on the Caribbean island of Nevis—population 11,000—that he was “not computer literate” because of a disability, and that he was never paid for his work. In November, a lawyer representing Lax’s sister, Zlaty Schwartz, and his father’s estate, withdrew from the case, citing “irreconcilable differences” with the estate.

Since then, the case has settled, according to the developers’ lawyer, William Fried, who declined to comment, citing a confidentiality agreement.

***

Those cases represent only a small sample of the suits filed against Lax in recent years. In September 2013, the law firm Cohen & Perfetto sued Lax, claiming he stiffed them for $48,000 in legal fees. The case settled, with Scharf representing Lax.

Last January, Lax’s cousin, Aron, sued Lax and his sister for allegedly pursuing “unjust enrichment” by trying to evict Aron and his wife from a Brooklyn condo that they have resided in since 2006 but whose mortgage is in the name of Lax’s late father. Last October, the firm Porzio, Bromberg & Newman sued Lax for $100,000 in unpaid legal fees. And in June, the law firm Meltzer, Lippe, Goldstein & Breitstone sued Lax for $20,000 in unpaid legal fees. The cases remain ongoing. Lax has also been named as a defendant in a number of cases claiming failures to make mortgage payments.

Lax’s problems have continued to entangle Ivanka Trump. In recent years, the state of New York has issued at least three warrants for unpaid taxes against Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry, totaling over $300,000. The outstanding taxes were eventually paid.

The financial travails of Lax and his wife have also put Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry in danger of at least partly falling into the hands of the highest bidder at a public auction in order to satisfy their unpaid debts. In January, a New York couple, Michael and Rachel Goldenberg, sued Lax and his wife for stiffing them on a six-figure loan. Lax’s wife owned at least part of Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry, and in April, a New York court ordered her to turn over her stake in the company to the city so that it could be auctioned off to settle the debt. She apparently failed to do so, leading the Goldenbergs to request in May that she be held in contempt of court. In July, the court ordered the Laxs to pay the Goldenbergs $675,000, and the motion for contempt has been put on hold until September 19, the deadline for paying the debt.

The Laxes’ finances are further obscured by the fact that they are sometimes conducted under the name Chana Weisz, an alias used by his wife, Shaindy. Lax will sometimes write checks from a checkbook made in the name of Chana Weisz, according to a person who has seen him do this. The person recently received a five-figure check from Lax out of that checkbook but said they were unable to cash it because, as an alarmed bank teller pointed out, Lax’s signature did match the name on the check.

Amid so many setbacks, Lax did score at least one massive, if temporary, reprieve thanks to some highly irregular tax relief. In October 2015, the IRS released a $27 million tax lien against his father’s estate, saying the obligation had been satisfied. But last May, the IRS reinstated the lien, saying it had been released by mistake and that the $27 million in back taxes had never actually been paid.

Michael Macgillivray, a prominent Chicago attorney specializing in tax collections and a veteran of the IRS collections department, was gobsmacked by the botched lien release. “That is extremely extraordinary,” he said. “Of the things I’ve seen in my practice, nothing has even remotely approached a million dollars when there was an erroneously released lien.”

To read this article in its entirety click, here.

Lakewood – LA Times – What is going on? A Little Fraud, Perhaps?

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Raids in New Jersey town target ultra-Orthodox Jews accused of welfare fraud. ‘What is going on here?’

 

LA Times: http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-new-jersey-orthodox-20170923-story.html

It was the dramatic kickoff of a series of well-publicized raids that since late June have netted 26 suspects on charges of stealing $2 million in government benefits. Prosecutors say that the suspects understated their income to get free healthcare, food stamps, rental subsidies and other benefits.

All of those arrested — 13 men and 13 women — were ultra-Orthodox Jews. The charges have tapped into a well of festering hostility toward an insular and eccentric minority.

nce a backwater at the edge of New Jersey’s Pine Barrens, Lakewood is now home to one of the largest concentrations of ultra-Orthodox Jews outside of Israel. They are a fast-growing population with a high birthrate; the population of Lakewood has exploded from 45,000 in 1990 to more than 100,000 today. Many of the newcomers are from large families priced out of Brooklyn by gentrification.

At first glance, little sets Lakewood apart from any number of other suburban communities on the fringes of the New York metropolitan area. But the differences are there. Signs are commonly in Hebrew and Yiddish. The Shop-Rite has closed and was replaced by Glatt Gourmet, a kosher supermarket. New subdivisions have Jewish-themed street names, like Hadassah Lane.

Like the Amish, these strictly observant Jews are instantly recognizable by their modest dress — the women in long skirts and wigs that cover their hair, and the men with yarmulkes or black fedoras and tzitzit, the strings hanging out of their shirts that remind them of their religious obligations. Instead of buggies, though, they mostly drive SUVs or minivans to fit large broods of children.

Around New York, there are a handful of similar towns that are dominated by ultra-Orthodox Jews, but only in Lakewood have federal and state authorities laid down the gauntlet so definitively.

Many young families are heavily dependent on government benefits. Couples marry and bear children young, usually in their early 20s while the fathers are full-time students in religious schools, the mothers working part-time doing office work.

With five or more children, many of them with special needs — a result attributed to women having multiple births until late in life and genetic disorders in a relatively closed population — families cannot survive without government assistance, especially to buy health insurance.

In Lakewood, 65,000 people — more than half the town’s population — are on Medicaid, the government health program for low-income families, according to state data. Lakewood has more children with two parents receiving government benefits than any other municipality in New Jersey, including large, chronically depressed cities such as Newark and Camden. A report by the Asbury Park Press found that Lakewood had received 14% of the money from a $34-million state fund for catastrophic illnesses in children, despite having only 2% of the state’s children. It also found that the town had 29 times more grant recipients than any other town in New Jersey.

In 2015, the New Jersey state controller’s office flagged the disproportionate sums of government money being absorbed by Lakewood. The town didn’t look poor by any conventional yardsticks of poverty.

“You have a family or six or seven or eight, somebody is paying the mortgage, somebody is paying the taxes, they have two cars in the driveway, they’ve got food for all the kids … and they’re reporting their total income at $10,000,’’ said Joseph Coronato, the Ocean County prosecutor who took the lead in the case. “You have to ask — what is going on here?’’

In one case unsealed by the court in June, a couple with six children are alleged to have reported their income at $39,000 per year — low enough to qualify for Medicaid — when in fact they were getting more than $1 million annually from a limited liability corporation.

Members of the religious community say that cases of deliberate fraud are rare. For the most part, they say, the couples caught up in prosecutions had failed to report money they’d gotten from parents who were either paying the tuition for children in private schools or helping with the mortgage.

“The rules are very confusing. You have to be a Talmudist to figure out which program treats gifts from family as ordinary income,” said Rabbi Moshe Weisberg, the Lakewood head of what is called the Vaad, a self-governing council for the ultra-Orthodox community.

People most often got in trouble with their Medicaid applications, motivated by their inability to afford market-rate health insurance, which he said ran as high as $30,000 annually for a large family. Several of the families have disabled children, he noted.

“None of these people used any of this welfare money for an extravagant lifestyle. They were struggling to make ends meet and trying to pay medical bills,” said Harold Herskowitz, a businessman who runs a toy store in Lakewood. He believes the prosecutions were motivated by hostility toward the ultra-Orthodox.

“I’m the child of Holocaust survivors; I don’t appreciate Jewish people dragged out in public early in the morning,” Herskowitz said.

The initial arrests in June received extensive news coverage, with television crews tipped off in advance to film the scenes of couples in handcuffs being led away. Following complaints, the prosecutors have made subsequent arrests more discreetly, but still the publicity rankles.

The case has tapped into a wave of hostility toward the community. Last month, somebody hung an anti-Semitic banner on a Holocaust memorial in Lakewood, and fliers were distributed on the windshields of cars with photos of those arrested under the caption, “Thieving Jews Near You.”

Under fire from many sides, the observant Jews of Lakewood are trying to burnish their reputation in New Jersey. They’ve hosted outreach programs between the community and the police — Bagels, Lox & Cops, as the meetings have been called. Other public programs have been designed to advise ultra-Orthodox families on how to stay on the legal side of public assistance programs.

Lakewood, about 50 miles from New York City, was a resort town for the New York elite beginning in the late 19th century, attracting luminaries such as Mark Twain and members of the Rockefeller family. Their fancy retreats were later turned into kosher hotels catering to working- and middle-class Jews, the town becoming an extension of the Catskills’ Borscht belt across the border in New York state.

In 1943, the Rabbi Aharon Kotler, a Holocaust survivor who fled Lithuania, picked the town for his Beth Medrash Govoha, a yeshiva — religious school — that is now one of the world’s largest with 6,500 students, all men. That would in turn attract other yeshivas, along with Jewish primary schools, kosher delicatessens and shops.

“It was an idyllic little town with a strong Jewish flavor,’’ said Aaron Kotler, the founder’s grandson and current head of the yeshiva, in an interview in his sprawling suburban ranch house, the walls proudly displaying oil paintings of previous generations of bearded rabbis. “My grandfather chose Lakewood because it was quiet, which is ironic because people complain the yeshiva has ruined the quiet.’’

Kotler describes Lakewood today as one of the most attractive destinations for young religious Jews to study and raise families, making the demographics similar to other university towns.

“I like to think of Lakewood as poor by choice,’’ said Kotler.

The community has shown itself to be unusually adept at navigating the intricacies of politics and government.

“Their lives depend on knowing everything about how Section 8 [subsidized rental housing] works and getting into WICs,” the government Women, Infants and Childrenfood assistance program, said Samuel Heilman, a sociology professor at Queen College who has written several books on the community.

Politically speaking, the ultra-Orthodox wield clout beyond their numbers, with adult members almost always turning out for elections and voting as a single bloc.

“They tend to vote like the Christian right, and they have learned to make their votes very important,” said Heilman.

In all of New Jersey, Lakewood had the highest concentration of Donald Trump voters in last year’s presidential election – 74.4%. With their children all in private religious schools, they are strong supporters of Betsy DeVos, the education secretary who has called for school vouchers. Charles and Seryl Kushner, the parents of Trump aide and son-in-law Jared Kushner, are benefactors of the Beth Medrash Govoha yeshiva, and the rotunda of the school’s 2-year-old main building is named for them.

Ultra-Orthodox votes are even more important in local political races. They have installed candidates who favor their interests on the Lakewood school board, township committee and zoning board.

Lakewood’s 30,000 ultra-Orthodox children are ferried to 130 private religious schools on public school buses — boys and girls separately, since they attend single-sex schools — while public schools with only 6,000 children, mostly Latino and African American, have been gutted by a lack of funding. (This is in part due to a quirk in New Jersey’s school financing formula that requires busing for private school students but reimburses the districts based on public school enrollment.)

Some 4,000 new units of housing have been approved in Lakewood in the last two years, making the township the fastest-growing municipality in New Jersey. Real estate developers catering to the ultra-Orthodox are carving new subdivisions lined with four- and five-bedroom townhouses for large families.

“When I moved here, there were trees. Now I wake up and I’m surrounded by high-density townhouses,” said Tom Gatti, a retiree who heads a coalition of senior citizens opposing the pace of new development in Lakewood. “Anytime you try to challenge anything the ultra-Orthodox are doing, they drop the anti-Semitic card on the table.

“They are not looking to assimilate into the community; they are trying to take over,’’ Gatti said.

The ultra-Orthodox Jews also face criticism from less religious and secular Jews.

“Being observant should, first and foremost, involve living and working ethically,’’ complained a hard-hitting editorial in the Forward, the Yiddish- and English-language Jewish publication based in New York. The editorial called the welfare fraud cases “a desecration of God’s name.’’

“It’s too simple to say that this is a problem with Jews,’’ said Heilman, the sociology professor. “It is not their Jewishness that has created the problems; it is the way they interpret the demands of being Jewish.’’

Shelly Silver GUILTY! Conviction Overturned on Technical Grounds

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The evidence still shows Shelly Silver is guilty, guilty, guilty

Outrageous: Shelly Silver, one of the worst abusers of the public trust in recent New York history, just got his 2015 conviction tossed on technical grounds.

Prosecutors promise a new trial, but justice has already been delayed far too long here.

A federal appeals court Thursday tossed the former Assembly speaker’s 2015 corruption conviction because a later Supreme Court ruling tweaked the rules for what counts as political corruption.

Yet the same 2nd Circuit of Appeals had just affirmed the bribery conviction of ex-Assemblyman William Boyland Jr. despite similar issues.

And the evidence against Silver proves corruption under the new rules as well as the old.

  • The then-speaker funneled some $500,000 in state grants to a doctor who, in turn, sent patients to Silver’s law firm, Weitz & Luxenberg — which then paid Silver for the referrals.
  • In another scheme, Silver voted to OK tax-exempt financing for a real-estate developer, Glenwood Management, and for favorable rent- and tax-abatement laws. In exchange, Glenwood took some work to the firm of another Silver pal, which in turn paid “fees” to the speaker.

Silver pocketed at least $4 million from these kickbacks.

At trial, his defense boiled down to “everybody does it.” But while the Legislature is indeed profoundly corrupt, that doesn’t make any of it legal.
And certainly not these abuses of power by a man who ruled as speaker for more than two decades.

Yes, the Supreme Court last year tossed the corruption conviction of ex-Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell over too-broad instructions to the jury about what defines “official acts.” But Silver’s case involved far more clear-cut bribes — and more clear-cut abuse of power — than McDonnell’s.

Yet somehow the 2nd Circuit thinks a “rational jury” might not have found Silver guilty if it had been “properly instructed.”

Let’s hope prosecutors move quickly to a new trial. The best medicine for New York’s rampant corruption is swift, harsh punishment for the abusers. And Silver, 73, has already been free for far too long.

Sheldon Silver Corruption Conviction Overturned – Opening the door for more corruption…

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Sheldon Silver’s corruption conviction overturned, documents show

A federal appeals court on Thursday overturned ex-Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s corruption conviction, according to court documents.

In March federal prosecutors in the Silver case faced sharp questioning the appeals panel, which was worried about whether the conviction could survive a new U.S. Supreme Court decision narrowing the scope of “official acts” that can be the subject of a bribe.

“You went to trial on the theory that anything Sheldon Silver did in connection with his role as speaker was an official act,” said Judge William Sessions. “That’s something totally different from what’s now the government action required. How do you know the jury would have made the same decision?”

The arguments provided a first glimpse of how the 2nd U.S. Circuit of Appeals in Manhattan would interpret the high court’s 2016 ruling in a case involving former Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell, which held prosecutors must show an actual exercise of government power, not just a meeting or phone call.

It drew an overflow crowd, including prosecution and defense lawyers prepping to argue the same issues on the conviction of former Senate leader Dean Skelos, as well as U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood, who presided at Skelos’ trial, and new Acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim.

Silver was convicted in 2015 of sponsoring grants and doing other favors for an asbestos doctor who referred patients to the Speaker’s law firm, and also collecting legal referral fees from real estate developers whose legislation he supported. The Democrat was sentenced to 12 years in prison, but has remained free while appealing.

Steve Molo, Silver’s lawyer, said the former Speaker deserved a new trial because the evidence included both actual exercises of government power and lesser favors — like meeting with real estate donors and job references for the doctor’s children.

U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni’s instructions gave jurors the latitude to convict on either, he argued. “It was inconsistent with what the law is now,” Molo said.

But prosecutor Andrew Goldstein contended that the case involved actual legislative acts, not just the constituent courtesies the Supreme Court said were insufficient in McDonnell’s case.

“This case involved far more than meetings and introductions and nothing more,” he said. “ engaged in official decision-making to benefit the people who were paying him.”

When the judges cited lesser favors which prosecutors had also argued were official acts, Goldstein said they were all part of a larger “scheme,” and were elevated by Silver’s power and clout.

But Judge Richard Wesley objected to that claim. “Then any powerful person who wants you to do something is committing a crime?” he said. “Is every invitation to a fundraiser a crime?”

Please see the article in its original format on Newsday by clicking here.

 

FOR FURTHER READING:

Conviction of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver overturned

http://abc7ny.com/news/conviction-of-former-assembly-speaker-sheldon-silver-overturned/2212539/

Sheldon Silver’s corruption conviction is overturned