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New York - AG Files Law Suit Against Brooklyn Rabbi In Alleged Multi-Million Charity Scheme

Published on: June 27, 2013 02:46 PM
Last updated on: June 27, 2013 03:31 PM
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Brooklyn, NY - The New York State Attorney General’s office has file suit in Kings County Supreme Court against Brooklyn resident Rabbi Yaakov Weingarten, his wife Rivka, and his two top employees David Yifat and Simon Weiss charging that all are complicit in stealing “hundreds of thousands-if not millions” of dollars in donations targeted for Israeli charities.

A story that was originally reported by VIN (http://bit.ly/1509wpD) on June 25th, the suit follows a prolonged, laborious effort by the AG’s office to extract cooperation from Weingarten with regard to his running of some twenty charities and his fundraising practices

VIN has obtained a copy of the lawsuit that was filed in Kings County Supreme Court of June 26, 2013.

According to court documents, none of Weingarten’s charities have filed required IRS reports since 2007, and bank statements from many of the charities, obtained by the AG, show that Weingarten and his associates have constantly used accounts in charity names as their own personal bank accounts.

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Since 2007, Weingarten and Weiss have used 35 different charity bank accounts to withdraw over $350,000 in checks written to “cash,” and have withdrawn Millions the complaint says.

Bank statements also reveal that charity bank accounts have been used to pay Weingarten’s home mortgages, car loans,  and utilities, as well as remodeling a second home Weingarten purchased in 2009.

On May 14th, 2013, Weingarten was summoned to appear before the Office of the Attorney General’s Charities Bureau (“OAG”) to give sworn testimony in response to the charges against him.

Weingarten refused to answer a single question during the session, while invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination over 600 times.

Court documents also state that Weingarten has routinely engaged in the practice of intentionally confusing potential donors by choosing names for his fake charities that closely resemble more established entities to which he has no affiliation.

The suit cites examples of Weingarten entities bearing the names Hatzalah Rescue and Hatzalah Shomrom, which have that name in common with unrelated Hatzalah entities that operate EMS vehicles in New York and Israel.

Another one of Weingarten’s fake charities, Zaka Israel, bears a close resemblance to Israel-based Zaka entities that dedicate themselves to assisting terrorism victims and gathering the remains of victims killed by terrorist attacks in Israel and elsewhere.

The suit charges that Weingarten also used the name Magen Israel, which closely resembles Magen David, the Israeli equivalent of the Red Cross.

The suit states, “The Defendants employ the similar sounding names to confuse donors in believing that they are contributing to a well-established charity or cause.”

Over the duration of his scheme, Wiengraten has claimed that he has had the support of Rabbis, even posting YouTube clips, as photo-ops, showing him getting blessings from Israeli Rabbis without even mentioning his organizations.

The following is a full list of names and last known addresses of the Defendants listed in the suit:

1. Yaakov Weingarten, last known address 1124 East 23rd Street, Brooklyn, NY

2. Rivka Weingarten, last known address 1124 East 23rd Street, Brooklyn, NY

3. David Yifat, Brooklyn, NY

4. Simon Weiss, last known address 5409 Almeda Avenue, Apt. 3C, Queens, NY

5. Hatzalah Rescue, 1493 Coney Island Avenue, Brooklyn, NY

6. Shearim, 5014 16th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY

7. Bnei Torah, 1493 Coney Island Avenue, Brooklyn, NY

8. Chesed L’Yisrael, 1493 Coney Island Avenue, Brooklyn, NY

9. Yad L’Shabbat, 1493 Coney Island Avenue, Brooklyn, NY

10. Hatzalah Shomrom, 5014 16th Avenue, Suite 355, Brooklyn, NY

11. Pulse, 1493 Coney Island Avenue, Brooklyn, NY

12. Agudath, 5014 16th Avenue, Suite 152, Brooklyn, NY

13. Reb Meir, 1493 Coney Island Avenue, Brooklyn, NY

14. Congregation Yad L’Shabbat, 1493 Coney Island Avenue, Brooklyn, NY

15. Shearim Hayad, 1493 Coney Island Avenue, Brooklyn, NY

16. Emergency Center, 1491 Coney Island Avenue, Brooklyn, NY

17 Magen Israel, 1493 Coney Island Avenue, Brooklyn, NY

18. Hayad, 1493 Coney Island Avenue, Brooklyn, NY

19. Lmaan Hatorah, 5014 16th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY

20. Our Children, 1493 Coney Island Avenue, Brooklyn, NY

21. Zaka Israel, 5014 16th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY

22. Yaldei Simcha Yisrael, 1493 Coney Island Avenue, Brooklyn, NY

23. Yad Israel, 1493 Coney Island Avenue, Brooklyn, NY


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1

 Jun 27, 2013 at 02:53 PM Bigshorty Says:

Not cool.

2

 Jun 27, 2013 at 03:03 PM yonasonw Says:

Very nice! Of course, any cynicism on my part must be misplaced, merely the product of social tolerance and Liberalism...I will try to see the emes, that this report is simply another dose of Obama-inspired anti-frum propaganda...just like those lies about covering up sex abuse among erliche Yidden.

3

 Jun 27, 2013 at 03:26 PM Hmmmmmm Says:

I wonder many times what these peopel think after 120 years. It's never a free ride! What a shame to the yiddishe community.

4

 Jun 27, 2013 at 03:33 PM Liepa Says:

Dun l'kuff z'chus, I hope all these allegations aren't true.
But I'm not sending any monies from mailing requests unless I know the charities or the people running them!

5

 Jun 27, 2013 at 03:34 PM silverchain Says:

Who can you trust these days?

Very disappointing news

6

 Jun 27, 2013 at 03:44 PM Liberty Says:

Innocent until "proven" guilty.

7

 Jun 27, 2013 at 03:59 PM OscarMadison Says:

...and here I was, wondering what the shande of the day was going to be.

8

 Jun 27, 2013 at 04:11 PM UseYourHead Says:

Oh please, let's not pretend there is any room left to be dan l'kaf zechus here. Being dan l'kaf zechus doesn't mean burying your head in the sand in living in denial. As someone who has been harassed with literally hundreds - if not thousands - of unsolicited phone calls (all from "dupe" numbers) from a call center that sounds like it's being manned by idiots (literally), I will be the first to say that all those involved in this horrible scam should be locked away for life. They have stolen not merely from unwitting donors, but more critically, from the legitimate poor people and charities that are in dire need of these funds.

9

 Jun 27, 2013 at 04:30 PM Anonymous Says:

Does this mean that my phone will no longer ring non stop every evening. How sad that charities are used in such a dishonest way

10

 Jun 27, 2013 at 04:39 PM maxedout Says:

To Numbers 3 and 5: Its getting harder and harder to be dan l'kaf zechus anymore. Every week we hear of another ganev or molestor and frankly, it's embarassing already.
Very sad that we can no longer trust tzedaka organizations anymore. From here on in, phone calls from any organization will go unanswered in my home. I'd rather support Chai Lifeline, Zaka, Hatzala, etc than these crooks.

11

 Jun 27, 2013 at 04:54 PM yaakov doe Says:

The Woodmere real estate man's plea and this allegation all in one day. Why do our people get involved in such g'naivah?

12

 Jun 27, 2013 at 04:57 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #6  
Liberty Says:

Innocent until "proven" guilty.

The paper trail doesn't lie. In the meantime, our people will still give to his charities if they think like you do. He has been collecting for leukemia and other cancers. Do you think that is fair to a cancer patient undergoing chemo and losing hair that donations go into his pockets and not into research? This is absolutely disgusting and shows how heartless some people are.

13

 Jun 27, 2013 at 04:58 PM Geulah Says:

5014 16th Avenue is a post office box business with postal and stationery supplies. I can see the wisdom of banning the internet, now. People sharp enough to Google an address are sharp enough not to fall for deceptive practices.

14

 Jun 27, 2013 at 05:20 PM Phineas Says:

Reply to #6  
Liberty Says:

Innocent until "proven" guilty.

that is with respect to punishment by the criminal justice system not with respect to private individuals digesting facts and coming to certain conclusions.

15

 Jun 27, 2013 at 05:38 PM ChareidiMan Says:

Thank god they got to his crook there are plenty more that need to be out rooted. Grabbing hard earned money form innocent victims in order to fill your pockets should be punished hard!

the way he names these fake organizations gives you a clue what he is all about

Also, I would recommend that any charity organization that the main address is a POB, should be investigated!

16

 Jun 27, 2013 at 05:46 PM Anonymous Says:

I know that one of his organizations are legit. I can't speak for the other. But i can say this. Every schnorer from EY needs to pigy bank on some mosod so that donaters can receive a tax deduction. They are just individuals how do they form a mosod. Many of them go thru these middle men who create mosdos for them. I believe its legal though i am not a lawyer. I would assume the founders of these mosdos take a cut. It wouldn't suprise me if someone has a business providing organizations for various needs. Hence forth multiple organizations.

17

 Jun 27, 2013 at 06:10 PM Deveee Says:

If proven guilty, he should rot in jail.

18

 Jun 27, 2013 at 08:04 PM um..yeah.. Says:

Reply to #16  
Anonymous Says:

I know that one of his organizations are legit. I can't speak for the other. But i can say this. Every schnorer from EY needs to pigy bank on some mosod so that donaters can receive a tax deduction. They are just individuals how do they form a mosod. Many of them go thru these middle men who create mosdos for them. I believe its legal though i am not a lawyer. I would assume the founders of these mosdos take a cut. It wouldn't suprise me if someone has a business providing organizations for various needs. Hence forth multiple organizations.

What you are suggesting is 100% illegal in the USA.

19

 Jun 27, 2013 at 08:06 PM Shmilfke Says:

This is a direct result of not giving our kids an education.
This is why 85% of our parnassah's are from moving money around from account to account - and yes, I am including honest people who work in the non-productive professions of mortgage brokering, stock trading, and all kinds of paper pushing.

Why can't our Yeshivas prepare the next dentists, doctors, engineers, computer scientists, biologists, pilots, etc etc etc??????
If we want to be in Yeshiva all day, that is a noble mission - but then we can't expect to live the lifestyle must of us do. We need to pick a side!

20

 Jun 27, 2013 at 08:10 PM Israel Y Says:

The gemoreh tells us already i think its Rav Yoseph that we need to thank the thiefs because if not them we would be liable for each poor man that is knocking on our door and we don't give them the proper amount, if not this thiefs every flyer we recieve in the mail and we don't open it just we have it straight from the mailbox into the garbage even if some of them are real organization but since some of the are real phonies like all the above this is what we will answer when we will stand trial for not giving for real charities, so all the years people use to portend that they are needy or helping the needy and pocketing the money.

21

 Jun 27, 2013 at 08:52 PM bplady Says:

This is very interesting. I had been suspicious of some of these orgs. They had used robo calls, different numbers, 914, 516, 718, their stationery looked similar,
and some of their people calling were not too pleasant. I am glad this will end.

22

 Jun 27, 2013 at 08:57 PM silverchain Says:

Cut this mans beard off now and swipe his wife's sheitel.

They are not frum

23

 Jun 27, 2013 at 09:27 PM sheepheadsbayyid Says:

Time for an ashifha against fraud. This is a direct result of looking the other way of small fraud. Like food stamps section 8 and who knows how many more. Why not be halve as strict when it come to genava as many are regarding internet, what glasses one wears and stuff like that

24

 Jun 27, 2013 at 10:12 PM qazxc Says:

At least he wasn't caught drinking cholov hacompanies, wearing a kipa seruga, saying a mishabarach for the chayalim, ending shabbos at shkiah plus fifty minutes, going to a Lips concert, studying Rabbi Slifkin's science books, davening in a Young Israel, learning in the YU Bais Midrash or attending the Salute to Israel parade. Those avairos would chas veshalom keep his kids from finding 'good' shidduchim.

Stealing 40 million dollars (if true) shouldn't cause any shudduch problems for his kids, unless the AG can find all of it, making him guilty of one of the worst, if not THE worst, avairah, THOUGH SHALL NOT BE BROKE IN THE HEILIGER FLATBUSH KEHILLAH.

25

 Jun 27, 2013 at 10:27 PM Anonymous Says:

He's a real ganev and the lowest of the low. I he's worse than a robber who breaks into someone's house. He stole intentionally from many many people under pretense.

26

 Jun 27, 2013 at 10:33 PM BoruchN Says:

Reply to #6  
Liberty Says:

Innocent until "proven" guilty.

Yes...let's hope it's not true, G-d forbid!

27

 Jun 27, 2013 at 10:34 PM Boruch N. Hoffinger Says:

Reply to #22  
silverchain Says:

Cut this mans beard off now and swipe his wife's sheitel.

They are not frum

Innocent until proven guilty...don't be a 'self-hating' Jew.

28

 Jun 27, 2013 at 10:35 PM Boruch N. Hoffinger Says:

Reply to #17  
Deveee Says:

If proven guilty, he should rot in jail.

Makes me angry also...wait and see...jail is very cruel. Better flogging and public embarrassment then reparations.

30

 Jun 28, 2013 at 03:36 AM I_Am_Me Says:

Reply to #22  
silverchain Says:

Cut this mans beard off now and swipe his wife's sheitel.

They are not frum

What makes them not frum? They might be thieves, but they're frum. Do you honestly believe the frum world doesn't have corruption?! Get real!

31

 Jun 27, 2013 at 11:31 PM Anonymous Says:

Form the Court House News Service:
"Weingarten and Weiss have withdrawn more than $42 million from accounts since 2007, written at least $350,000 in checks to "cash," and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars directly from charity accounts to pay Weingarten's home mortgages, car loans, utilities and the costs of remodeling the Weingarten's second home, purchased in 2009, according to the complaint. They also made "large and irregular payments to themselves," including $120,000 paid to Weiss and Weingarten on a single day, according to the state."

32

 Jun 28, 2013 at 07:44 AM WiseDude Says:

Our community obviously has a problem. I remember 40 years ago when an Orthodox Jew was considered an honest man by Jews and gentiles alike. Those days seem like a dream now.

33

 Jun 28, 2013 at 09:26 AM maxedout Says:

Can we get one "gadol", just one, any one, to speak out against such things? Answer; A resounding NO!!! Why, because these thieves donate lots of money to these "gedolim".
How many shuls and yeshivos are built on stolen money? We are our own worst enemy.

34

 Jun 28, 2013 at 10:24 AM CollegeYid Says:

Reply to #19  
Shmilfke Says:

This is a direct result of not giving our kids an education.
This is why 85% of our parnassah's are from moving money around from account to account - and yes, I am including honest people who work in the non-productive professions of mortgage brokering, stock trading, and all kinds of paper pushing.

Why can't our Yeshivas prepare the next dentists, doctors, engineers, computer scientists, biologists, pilots, etc etc etc??????
If we want to be in Yeshiva all day, that is a noble mission - but then we can't expect to live the lifestyle must of us do. We need to pick a side!

Last Mishna in Kidushin, everyone keeps ignoring it! TEACH YOUR CHILD A CLEAN PROFESSION LEST THEY RESULT IN STEALING.
You are 100% right. There is no direction amongst our children- 20 years ago a bachur was asked in 11th grade what he planned on doing with his life so he can get guidance, what happened?!?

35

 Jun 28, 2013 at 11:09 AM BuckyinWisconsin Says:

This is just so sleazy. The Chillul Ha Shem that comes with something like this is immeasurable.

36

 Jun 28, 2013 at 12:06 PM HardWorkinDad Says:

Reply to #34  
CollegeYid Says:

Last Mishna in Kidushin, everyone keeps ignoring it! TEACH YOUR CHILD A CLEAN PROFESSION LEST THEY RESULT IN STEALING.
You are 100% right. There is no direction amongst our children- 20 years ago a bachur was asked in 11th grade what he planned on doing with his life so he can get guidance, what happened?!?

I can tell you what happened. The "lakewood" mentality took over where every boy is told that he must go to kollel, whether qualified or not. Rebbies are telling boys "you should demand 5 years support or 10 years support, yada yada yada". Then what? They expect to be hired to a CEO position earning 250K a year.
Every girl is told in seminary that marrying a kollel boy and supporting him guarantees her gan eden. Coupled with that, the high schools eliminated any education but the bare minimums. Remember when yeshivas taught french, spanish, hebrew, chemistry, biology, economics, biology, etc?? Remember when 12th grade was more than 1 english class (because regents diploma requires 4 years of english)?
It is embarasing when even the shadchans say "Your son is working??". Thats the society we have become - A young man who starts out on a career is considered 2nd class by our oh so holier than thou yeshivish brethren. Lets be honest, how many boys are in BMG ONLY because they are looking for a shidduch? It's time for parents to take back control of their kids.

37

 Jun 28, 2013 at 12:49 PM kalman1 Says:

Reply to #2  
yonasonw Says:

Very nice! Of course, any cynicism on my part must be misplaced, merely the product of social tolerance and Liberalism...I will try to see the emes, that this report is simply another dose of Obama-inspired anti-frum propaganda...just like those lies about covering up sex abuse among erliche Yidden.

Instead of focusing on the thousands of Yidden who mistakenly gave him money, you decide to define the frum community by this one fellow who bilked their generosity. It is fascinating how hatred distorts.

38

 Jun 28, 2013 at 01:32 PM bewhiskered Says:

Reply to #30  
I_Am_Me Says:

What makes them not frum? They might be thieves, but they're frum. Do you honestly believe the frum world doesn't have corruption?! Get real!

"What makes them not frum? They might be thieves, but they're frum."

Are they really? If Weingarten and his wife ate חזיר and were מחלל שבת, you would say they are not פרום, wouldn't you? But, just because they are ONLY עובר on לא תגנבו ולא תכחשו ולא תשקרו איש בעמיתו, which is ONLY בין אדם לחבירו, you maintain that they are still פרום? This is the the kind of blatant hypocrisy that one finds in the so called תורה community! The cancer that people like you profess is that one can still be a so called ירא שמים even though he steals money from others! As long as one is careful what he does בין אדם למקום, being עובר when it comes to everything that is בין אדם לחבירו really doesn't amount to very much- right? You are a proponent of Smorgasbord Judaism, where you take what you like, and leave what you don't! Weingarten and his wife are both עובר on איסורים דאורייתא, and thus, cannot be conceived of as פרום, no matter how much of a mockery you make of the תורה!

39

 Jun 28, 2013 at 04:24 PM yonasonw Says:

Reply to #37  
kalman1 Says:

Instead of focusing on the thousands of Yidden who mistakenly gave him money, you decide to define the frum community by this one fellow who bilked their generosity. It is fascinating how hatred distorts.

Sure is fascinating...I don't know you, and you don't know me...make your parents proud and show a little respect.

40

 Jun 28, 2013 at 07:18 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #6  
Liberty Says:

Innocent until "proven" guilty.

what, do you work with him?

41

 Jun 30, 2013 at 01:54 AM jack-l Says:

Reply to #36  
HardWorkinDad Says:

I can tell you what happened. The "lakewood" mentality took over where every boy is told that he must go to kollel, whether qualified or not. Rebbies are telling boys "you should demand 5 years support or 10 years support, yada yada yada". Then what? They expect to be hired to a CEO position earning 250K a year.
Every girl is told in seminary that marrying a kollel boy and supporting him guarantees her gan eden. Coupled with that, the high schools eliminated any education but the bare minimums. Remember when yeshivas taught french, spanish, hebrew, chemistry, biology, economics, biology, etc?? Remember when 12th grade was more than 1 english class (because regents diploma requires 4 years of english)?
It is embarasing when even the shadchans say "Your son is working??". Thats the society we have become - A young man who starts out on a career is considered 2nd class by our oh so holier than thou yeshivish brethren. Lets be honest, how many boys are in BMG ONLY because they are looking for a shidduch? It's time for parents to take back control of their kids.

Amen. This has been going on for some time. I could not have said it better.
I would like to add , we must take our yiddishkeit back. We need to practise what we saw in our own alte heim. We saw the sacrifices our parents and grandparents made to keep shabbos, kashrus and to send us to cheder and yeshiva. Who ever saw or heard of the alte heim fairy tales some chnoks tell us.
We could start by figuring out who are the true rabbinic leaders. And we will know who they are because they will be learned, inspirational, inclusive. jew lovers.
We have lost focus and allowed others to hijack our timeless holy mission. We have no one to blame except ourselves.The Torah tells us "each generation gets the leadership it deserves"
While enjoying the unprecedented freedoms and good life of this country we allowed it to happen.
Funny ..... now that i think of it that is whats happening in the muslim/arab world too.

42

 Jul 01, 2013 at 01:33 AM I_Am_Me Says:

Reply to #38  
bewhiskered Says:

"What makes them not frum? They might be thieves, but they're frum."

Are they really? If Weingarten and his wife ate חזיר and were מחלל שבת, you would say they are not פרום, wouldn't you? But, just because they are ONLY עובר on לא תגנבו ולא תכחשו ולא תשקרו איש בעמיתו, which is ONLY בין אדם לחבירו, you maintain that they are still פרום? This is the the kind of blatant hypocrisy that one finds in the so called תורה community! The cancer that people like you profess is that one can still be a so called ירא שמים even though he steals money from others! As long as one is careful what he does בין אדם למקום, being עובר when it comes to everything that is בין אדם לחבירו really doesn't amount to very much- right? You are a proponent of Smorgasbord Judaism, where you take what you like, and leave what you don't! Weingarten and his wife are both עובר on איסורים דאורייתא, and thus, cannot be conceived of as פרום, no matter how much of a mockery you make of the תורה!

Lol you're really pathetic, you have a problem with English (on your second grade English, who can blame you) so you blame me?! That is really funny except what I said still stands they are frum. It doesn't make them good Jews, neither would being frum make them good Jews but they're frum. Everyone sins, it's the picture you portray to the world that makes you what you are these days unfortunately. For instance, Weberman is a chasid, he's a monster but still a chasid. Frum is a mentality & this guy portrays it.

43

 Jul 03, 2013 at 12:04 PM APPALLED Says:

Reply to #30  
I_Am_Me Says:

What makes them not frum? They might be thieves, but they're frum. Do you honestly believe the frum world doesn't have corruption?! Get real!

In typical Jewish fashion, I will respond to your question with a question of my own: " And exactly what MAKES THEM FRUM" ?? I think your comments and the way you define the word ' frum' is sadly very telling about where YOUR standards, morals, and priorities lie. They may observe Kashrut, or maybe even Shabbos--but they are NOT FRUM !! A beard nor a shaitel does not one frum make !!
Additionally....aside from all the terrible things they did that many commenters correctly noted, think about the horrendous Chilul Hashem they have caused. I don't know for sure because I am only a mortal Basar V'dom, but I hazard to guess that Shamayim is weeping and the Weingartens have been crossed off the FRUM list in the Heavenly court.

44

 Jul 03, 2013 at 12:18 PM Appalled Says:

Reply to #30  
I_Am_Me Says:

What makes them not frum? They might be thieves, but they're frum. Do you honestly believe the frum world doesn't have corruption?! Get real!

I totally agree with the razor-sharp comments and sentiments made in numbers 34, 36, and 38.
I'd also like to add that the Talmud admonishes all parents that they are Mechuyav to teach their children an "Avoda Kalla U'nekiya". Shame on all the Yeshivas that don't secularly educate the children today so that they can become productive earning members of society, shame on the parents that don't DEMAND better secular educations for their kids from these Yeshivas, and shame on their Roshei Hayeshivas who encourage an entire generation to grow-up to depend on
dole-outs from the government, their parents, their grandparents, other working
" MODERN" family members, and donors. You are SMORGASBORD Jews, whether you realize it or not, because you have chosen to IGNORE a part of our Oral Law.

45

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