Rockland County, NY - FBI Raids Ramapo In Yeshivah Education E-Rate Grant Probe
Last updated on: March 16, 2016 03:36 PM
Rockland County, NY - Several dozen FBI agents armed with search warrants spread out early this afternoon throughout Ramapo in a raid that is reportedly related to illegal purchase of equipment by religious schools with federal funding allocated for educational technology.
According to The Journal News agents raided several vendors in Monsey and Airmont at approximately 1:30 PM, demanding records related to the purchase of technological equipment through the government’s E-Rate program which distributes over $4 billion to schools nationwide each year for computers and internet access.
Questions were raised by both The Jewish Week and The Forward in 2013 about the high rate of E-Rate dollars being allocated to Jewish schools, many of whom forbid internet usage.
The Jewish Week reported that an inspector for the Federal Communications Commission’s Office of Inspector General investigated $1 million of technology purchases by the United Talmudic Academy that were subsidized by the program in 1999. While the investigation recommended that $900,000 of the funding be returned because of major violations, no reimbursements were ever made.
Peretz Klein, of Hashomer Alarm Systems in Spring Valley told The Journal News in a 2013 interview that the program was instrumental in providing computers and modern technology in many religious schools. The E-Rate program, created in 1996, was reportedly a major source of business for Hashomer, with millions of dollars in grants paying for servers, wiring and other technology in schools in both Rockland County and Brooklyn.
Hashomer Alarm Systems, is one of several businesses at 29 Robert Pitt Drive, one of the addresses raided by the FBI today. It is not known if the FBI had a search warrant for the company’s records and calls to Hashomer Alarm Systems went unanswered. Other addresses that were subject to FBI raids today were 21 Robert Pitt Drive, 161 Route 59 and 386 Route 59.
The raid comes in the shadow of last week’s report that as many as 50 people in Ramapo and Clarkstown, most of whom are elected officials, will be brought up on federal indictments.
The FBI said in a statement “Today, the FBI conducted searches in connection with an ongoing fraud investigation. If and when charges are filed, they will eventually become public. This remains an ongoing matter, and we are unable to provide any additional information at this time.”
U.S. Attorney Preet Bhara or Rockland County District Attorney Thomas Zugibe were not available for immediate comment.
More of today's headlines“Paris - French anti-terrorism police arrested a small group with Islamist militant ties on Wednesday, suspecting one of them they may have been planning an attack in...” Paris - French Police Arrest Group On Islamist Attack Suspicions “Moscow - Russia's President Vladimir Putin has hosted Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, hailing friendly ties between the two nations. While welcoming Rivlin in the...” Moscow - Putin Hosts Israeli President, Hails Close Bilateral Ties