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Saturday, August 28, 2010

West Hollywood, CA - Detectives Probe Triple Homicide of 3 Iranian Jews

West Hollywood, CA - Authorities are searching for clues in the killing of three men who were shot in a West Hollywood apartment.

The victims, including two brothers, were killed shortly after 9 p.m. Thursday, and their killer or killers got away without anyone seeing them, sheriff’s Detective Bill Marsh said.

The coroner’s office identified the victims as Pirooz (AKA: Petey) Moussazadeh, 27, his brother, Shahriar Moussazadeh, 38, and Bernard Khalili, 27.

Residents of the 612 Kings Road Arms apartments building heard what they thought were firecrackers going off in apartment 204. They called the apartment manager, who went to investigate and found the door open and a body inside.

Deputies found two more bodies in the apartment. All three men were in different places in the open-plan unit. No weapons were found, and there were no immediate clues as to why the men were targeted, authorities said.

At least two of the men lived in the apartment.

Marsh said the men likely knew whoever killed them. There was no sign of a struggle, and the door had not been forced open.

All three victims were members of the Iranian Jewish community and moved to the U.S. as young children, said Pooya Dayanim, president of the Iranian Jewish Public Affairs Committee.

“These are three guys who happen to be Persian Jews who happen to have been murdered,” Marsh said.

The victims were not wealthy, and family members told him they had no criminal pasts, Dayanim said.

“The only thing that sticks out is there was nothing significant about them,” he said.

The Los Angeles Times reported Friday that the killings were the second tragedy to hit the Khalili family in less than two years. In 2008, Bernard Khalili’s sister, Bianca Khalili, fell to her death from a Century City high-rise. Authorities ruled it a suicide.

A cousin, who was not named, told the Times Bernard Khalili was like a brother to him.

“My cousin was always a very kind person,” he said. “A very forgiving person.”

According to a law enforcement official familiar with the investigation but not authorized to discuss the attack, investigators believe the victims were targeted.

No arrests have been made, but Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Lt. Pat Nelson said he is confident investigators will make progress over the weekend.

“I can say that we are throwing a lot of resources at this case,” he wrote in an e-mail, adding that some of the department’s most experienced investigators worked the case throughout Thursday night. “Their efforts included scene sketches, photographs, latent print searches, firearms experts, and testing for biological evidence.”

There was no sign of forced entry or struggle, deputies said, and no drugs or weapons were found at the scene.

Relatives and friends of Khalili, who was part of a close-knit Persian community on the Westside, struggled with the news.
They overflowed from the Khalili family’s Westwood home, many crying.

Through relatives, Khalili’s parents declined to comment, but a cousin of Khalili’s said the 27-year-old was a gentle soul. The two, he said, grew up like brothers.

“My cousin was always a very kind person,” he said. “A very forgiving person.”

As the West Hollywood apartment was taped off for further investigation, neighbors remained startled by the news. The 28-unit building is filled with immigrants from Iran, Israel and Russia. Residents said there was a high turnover of tenants in the building, which has a “For Rent” sign posted outside.

Maurice Chriqui, who lives next door to where the slayings took place, said he had just arrived home from a business trip to Seattle to find his wife upset.

“Thank God, you’re home,” she told him. “I just heard some shots.”

Soon, Chriqui said, deputies flooded their quiet neighborhood with patrol cars and two ambulances. A sheriff’s helicopter circled overhead.

Chriqui, who has lived in the neighborhood for 10 years, said he was shocked. “What a shame to have three people dead,” he said.

The apartment building was said to be generally secure and peaceful. Investigators were seeking to speak with anyone who may have seen or heard anything.

West Hollywood is northwest of downtown Los Angeles

Friday, August 27, 2010

Court allows agents to secretly put GPS trackers on cars

Law enforcement officers may secretly place a GPS device on a person's car without seeking a warrant from a judge, according to a recent federal appeals court ruling in California.

Drug Enforcement Administration agents in Oregon in 2007 surreptitiously attached a GPS to the silver Jeep owned by Juan Pineda-Moreno, whom they suspected of growing marijuana, according to court papers.

When Pineda-Moreno was arrested and charged, one piece of evidence was the GPS data, including the longitude and latitude of where the Jeep was driven, and how long it stayed. Prosecutors asserted the Jeep had been driven several times to remote rural locations where agents discovered marijuana being grown, court documents show.

Pineda-Moreno eventually pleaded guilty to conspiracy to grow marijuana, and is serving a 51-month sentence, according to his lawyer.

But he appealed on the grounds that sneaking onto a person's driveway and secretly tracking their car violates a person's reasonable expectation of privacy.

"They went onto the property several times in the middle of the night without his knowledge and without his permission," said his lawyer, Harrison Latto.

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the appeal twice -- in January of this year by a three-judge panel, and then again by the full court earlier this month. The judges who affirmed Pineda-Moreno's conviction did so without comment.

Latto says the Ninth Circuit decision means law enforcement can place trackers on cars, without seeking a court's permission, in the nine western states the California-based circuit covers.

The ruling likely won't be the end of the matter. A federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., arrived at a different conclusion in similar case, saying officers who attached a GPS to the car of a suspected drug dealer should have sought a warrant.

Experts say the issue could eventually reach the U.S. Supreme Court.

One of the dissenting judges in Pineda-Moreno's case, Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, said the defendant's driveway was private and that the decision would allow police to use tactics he called "creepy" and "underhanded."

"The vast majority of the 60 million people living in the Ninth Circuit will see their privacy materially diminished by the panel's ruling," Kozinksi wrote in his dissent.

"I think it is Orwellian," said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, which advocates for privacy rights.

"If the courts allow the police to gather up this information without a warrant," he said, "the police could place a tracking device on any individual's car -- without having to ever justify the reason they did that."

But supporters of the decision see the GPS trackers as a law enforcement tool that is no more intrusive than other means of surveillance, such as visually following a person, that do not require a court's approval.

"You left place A, at this time, you went to place B, you took this street -- that information can be gleaned in a variety of ways," said David Rivkin, a former Justice Department attorney. "It can be old surveillance, by tailing you unbeknownst to you; it could be a GPS."

He says that a person cannot automatically expect privacy just because something is on private property.

"You have to take measures -- to build a fence, to put the car in the garage" or post a no-trespassing sign, he said. "If you don't do that, you're not going to get the privacy."

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Thou shalt double park. Scandal rabbi using 'fire' placards

Where's the fire, rabbi?

The city Correction Department rabbi who resigned after The Post revealed he organized a bar-mitzvah bash for an inmate's son behind bars recently has been parking illegally while displaying a placard that falsely claims he is a firefighter.

The Post spotted Rabbi Leib Glanz using an official Uniformed Firefighters Association placard Friday while praying in a Williamsburg synagogue.

In June, the Post exposed how the politically connected rabbi organized a bar mitzvah last December for the son of notorious fraudster and longtime fugitive Tuvia Stern in the downtown Manhattan jail known as The Tombs. The soiree had dozens of non-inmates as guests, featured catered kosher food and a live performance by popular Orthodox Jewish singer Yaakov Shwekey.

Several former inmates soon afterward said Glanz for years had arranged for Jewish inmates to be housed at The Tombs, where he let them use his office to watch movies, make phone calls and nosh on kosher delicacies.

The exposé sparked a still-pending Department of Investigation probe into Correction's coddling of Jewish inmates, as well as the resignations of Glanz and Correction chief Peter Curcio, who didn't stop the rabbi's flouting of jailhouse policy.

But Glanz apparently still has friends in high places.

A Post reporter saw a black Chevy Suburban with official license plates double-parked Friday in front of Glanz's home on Ross Street in Brooklyn. The vehicle had emergency lights on the roof and dashboard. Also on the dashboard were two parking placards.

One read, "Active firefighter . . . This vehicle is on official UFA Business . . . Uniformed Firefighters Association . . . Expires Feb 1, 2010 . . . #22344." The other was a placard from "Chevra Hatzolah," the volunteer emergency ambulance service.

At 7:30 a.m., Glanz drove to Wilson Street and Division Avenue and parked at a school where signs read, "No Standing 7 a.m.-7 p.m., School Days." Glanz went into a synagogue at 210 Division Ave.

A friend asked why a photographer was taking pictures and then got the keys and moved the SUV to a "No Standing 9 a.m.-5 p.m." zone.

Glanz came out about 9 a.m. and said he was given the firefighter placard by the Fire Department "as a courtesy" so he could park at the main synagogue of the Satmar sect on Hooper Street.

"In case I have to respond, I can park there. There aren't a lot of spaces," he said.

Asked why he was using the placard away from the Hooper Street synagogue, Glanz replied: "I'm willing to take it off. I don't need it."

He removed the two placards and drove off.

A spokesman for the firefighters' union could not immediately answer why Glanz had a placard but said that the placards are meant to be issued only to professional firefighters.

"In past years, unauthorized personnel have been arrested for misusing these vehicle identification placards, so if someone illegally obtains one, we highly recommend returning it to the UFA or turning it in to a local police precinct," the UFA said in a prepared statement

Netivot woman paid 'to lure rabbi'

Police are investigating suspicions that a woman equipped with recording equipment was paid to attempt to lure Rabbi Yaakov Ifergan of Netivot, also known as the "x-ray," into carrying out immodest acts, as part of an attempt to damage his reputation.

According to suspicions, the "honey trap" was dispatched by Rabbi Shimon Alon, who is Netivot's Municipal Comptroller.

According to reports, an audio recording exists of Alon offering the woman 150,000 shekels to "hug" Ifergan. Alon allegedly wished to photograph the hug and embarrass Ifergan.

Alon's attorney, Zion Amir, has refused to comment on the investigation.

Police have refused to comment on the investigation.

בראיון לערוץ 2 הכחיש מבקר עיריית נתיבות הרב שמעון אלון את החשדות על פיהם תכנן לשלוח "נערת פיתוי" לחצר הרב יעקב איפרגן על מנת להפילו בפח. לטענתו, היוזמה היתה של הנערה. בהקלטת השיחה נשמע אלון מורה לנערה מה ואיך לצלם

Weinstein Gets Bail in $200 Million Ponzi Scheme

Aug. 26 - Eliyahu Weinstein, a New Jersey man charged with leading a $200 million Ponzi scheme that targeted fellow Orthodox Jews, was granted $10 million bail today by a U.S. judge.

Weinstein, 35, was accused Aug. 12 of running a real-estate investment fraud that duped victims in New Jersey, New York, Florida, California and abroad.

Weinstein, who faces as many as 50 years in prison, has been in custody since his arrest. A prosecutor opposed bail for Weinstein, saying he poses a “profound” risk of fleeing if released before trial.

The bond must be secured by four properties with $4.2 million in equity. Weinstein must live under 24-hour house arrest in Lakewood, New Jersey, and undergo electronic monitoring with a global positioning system, said U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Falk. Weinstein also can’t go near any airports.

“There’s no question that given the circumstances here, there is a risk of flight,” Falk said in federal court in Newark, New Jersey. “While none of this is foolproof, it certainly is the best that is available and would impose a serious obstacle to someone trying to fly out of the country.”

Weinstein was charged with committing bank fraud and wire fraud from 2005 to this month. Vladimir Siforov, 43, who was charged with wire fraud, remains at large.

Community Ties

By using “lies, threats, deliberate misrepresentations and even counterfeit checks,” Weinstein and Siforov “exploited the close community ties of the Orthodox Jewish community for one goal: to steal money through an elaborate real estate and Ponzi scheme,” Michael B. Ward, special agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s office in Newark, said in a statement on Aug. 12.

New victims come forward daily, and the fraud caused “at least a $200 million loss,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Zach Intrater said today at the bail hearing. “The vast bulk of this money is missing, and the number keeps climbing.”

Weinstein, a bearded, bespectacled man with a wife and five young children, appeared at the hearing in a green shirt from the Hudson County Detention Center. About 40 members of the Orthodox Jewish community supported him in the courtroom.

His attorney, Ephraim Savitt, asked Falk for a $5 million bail package secured by the four properties. He also proposed home confinement and electronic monitoring, saying Weinstein posed no risk of flight and is “eminently bailable.”

Savitt assailed the investors who went to the FBI, saying one perjured himself in a civil deposition.

‘Unregulated Money Lending Machine’

“These victims are really an unregulated money lending machine,” Savitt said.

In a letter to the judge, Savitt said Weinstein was close to settling an $80 million lawsuit against him in Trenton, New Jersey, and that judgments had been entered against him of $35 million in Philadelphia and $6 million in New York.

After Weinstein’s arrest, Savitt said, he was the victim of extortion attempt at the jail, when he was “approached by a gang member who said he would provide for Mr. Weinstein’s protection within the facility.” The alleged extortionist was released on bail, and he called Weinstein’s wife to demand a down payment, Savitt told Falk.

Intrater argued that Weinstein has “a profound motive to flee,” saying that he has flown out of the country 40 times since 2007, including to Israel, Russia and Ukraine.

Of the four properties Weinstein was posting to secure his bond, one was owned by a man who was convicted of failing to file a currency transaction report, Intrater said. When authorities searched Weinstein’s house, the prosecutor said, his wife, Rivka, “attempted to sneak jewelry out of the house in the undergarments of a housekeeper.”

‘Very Relieved’

After the judge granted bail, Savitt said in an interview: “I’m very relieved. It was the right result.”

The FBI arrest complaint said Weinstein falsely represented that he owned or could buy property and that victims could make “a healthy profit in a short time period.” He sold his real or fake interest in property multiple times, fraudulently altered checks, drew up phony leases and hid zoning changes from his victims, according to the FBI.

When investors tried to collect their earnings, he ignored them, promised payments that never came, and paid smaller amounts than he owed, according to the complaint.

Weinstein used proceeds of the fraud to amass manuscripts and antique Judaica worth $6.2 million, a jewelry and clock collection that he bought for $7.6 million, and another jewelry and watch collection valued at $6.2 million.

He also charged $1.7 million to an American Express account, according to the complaint.

The case is United States of America v. Weinstein, 10-mj- 7115, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey (Newark).

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

מיכאל חן פניאן נמלט והותיר אישה עגונה. מכירים?

מיכאל חן פניאן נמלט לפני כארבע שנים, והותיר את אשתו עגונה. ערב הימים הנוראים, עם ישראל מתגייס לסייע באיתור האברך שנמלט
ערב הימים הנוראים, עם ישראל מתגייס לעזרתה של אישה עגונה, רננה פניאן, שבעלה מיכאל חן פניאן נמלט ומסרב להעניק לה גט.

"ברגע שנפרדנו, פתחתי תיק גרושין. היו לנו מעט דיונים בבית-הדין", מספרת העגונה, רננה. "ברגע שניסו לשכנע אותו בדרך קצת קשה לתת את הגט, הוא פשוט נעלם. גם את הילד הוא לא ראה. בהתחלה היה לנו מידע שהוא נמצא בבית הורים בטבריה, ומאז הוא פשוט נעלם".

מאז, גויסו לפתרון הפרשה גורמים מגוונים - מחברי בית-הדין, ועד לחוקרים פרטיים. המטרה: לעלות על עקבותיו.

אלא ששנים חלפו ומיכאל חן פניאן עדיין לא אותר. גורמים מבית-הדין שמעורבים בנושא, אגב, בטוחים כי משפחתו יודעת היכן הוא שוהה אולם היא מסרבת למסור את המידע.

הפרשה נחשפה אתמול ב"מהדורה המרכזית" של רדיו "קול חי", בהגשת מרדכי לביא.

במהלך התוכנית, גוללה פניאן את הרגעים שקדמו להעלמות. "שכנים סיפרו שראו אותו באזור הדירה, לוקח משם את חפציו".

והרי תאורו המלא: לאחרונה הוא נראה ברחוב זלמן שזר בטבריה עלית. גובה: 1.80. מבנה גוף ממוצע. שיער שחור. ממושקף, מגולח.

במהלך השידור, פנתה רננה אל בעלה בצורה אישית וביקשה ממנה שיחוס על נפשה.

יש לכם מידע על מיכאל פניאן? צלצלו בדחיפות: 02-6582829, 050-6229120

Mom Arrested In Connection With 5 Queens Robberies

Kew Gardens, NY - A Jewish mother was nabbed by New York City police Monday afternoon in connection with several armed robberies that took place at various banks, restaurants and liquor stores in Queens, PIX 11 News has learned.

Jodi Mendelowitz, 48, of Kew Gardens, was arrested Monday—hours after robbing both a bank and liquor store just 15 minutes apart. The mom-of-one first hit a Citibank—located at 69-80 188 St—where she flashed a silver gun, slipped a note to a teller, and demanded an undetermined amount of cash, according to authorities.

She next allegedly robbed a JR Discount Liquor store—located at 164-24 69th Ave—where she again apparently flashed a silver firearm to a cashier before making off with an undisclosed amount of cash.

Prior to robbing the liquor store, Mendelowitz is accused of walking into the Panda Garden Asian restaurant—located at 147-01 Union Turnpke—on Aug. 21 where she again flashed a gun and demanded cash. That same day, the suspect allegedly walked into Flushing Wine and Liquor store—located at 59-04 Main Street—flashed a gun and robbed the store of an undisclosed amount of cash.

On Aug. 20, she allegedly walked into the Expressway Wine and Liquor store—located at 154-16 Horace Harding Expressway. In that instance, police said she approached the counter holding a large pocketbook and demanded cash.

In all incidents, police said Mendelowitz fled in a red car, possibly a Ford Taurus or Mercury Sable. In addition, she also wore a black wig, sunglasses, a long blue denim dress and a baseball hat.

Mendelowtiz is facing charges of robbery in the second and first degree, criminal possession of a weapon and criminal use of a firearm.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Brooklyn man gets 18 months for helping N.J. rabbi launder money

DEAL — A Brooklyn man who admitted supplying cash to a money laundering operation run by a Monmouth County rabbi was sentenced in federal court today to 18 months in prison.

Schmuel Cohen, a 25-year-old Israeli citizen, pleaded guilty in April after being arrested in last year's massive FBI sting. He faced up to two years in prison under the terms of his deal with prosecutors, said Maureen Nakly, an assistant U.S. attorney.

U.S. District Judge Joel Pisano ordered him to surrender to the federal Bureau of Prisons within six weeks.

Cohen admitted illegally supplying hundreds of thousands of dollars to Rabbi Eliahu Ben Haim, who has since pleaded guilty to using religious charities to launder $1.5 million for a government informant.

Ben Haim was among five rabbis charged in the epic sting last July. The probe hinged on a former rabbinical student, Solomon Dwek, from Deal who began secretly recording conversations for prosecutors after being charged with bank fraud in 2006. His work ensnared 46 people, including politicians charged with taking bribes and rabbis accused of laundering money.

Cohen said he worked with a contact in Israel to supply Ben Haim with cash, which authorities say the rabbi used to launder checks for Dwek, the informant. In some cases, Dwek claimed he needed to hide the money from a bankruptcy proceeding. Others times, he said the checks came from criminal schemes, including the sale of knock-off Gucci and Prada handbags.

Dwek plead guilty in October to charges in connection with a $50 million bank fraud.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach's Nephew Arrested On Arms-Related Charges

Beamers, Fronts and Gators: The Life Of Miami's Young Gun Runners

When Efraim Diveroli wanted to show off some of his ammunition supply to a potential business partner, he rolled up in a silver Audi convertible with his friend and business associate: Dejan Djuric, the owner of Advanced Munitions.

Diveroli, as we told you earlier, was arrested on Friday and charged with possession of firearms as a convicted felon and with possession of firearms while under indictment for a felony offense. But all signs indicate that there's a bigger case on the horizon.

The owner of Advanced Munitions, which an ATF agent told the court he believes is a "front company" for Diveroli to do business, is only listed by the initials "D.D." in the affidavit. But TPMMuckraker's search of Florida business records indicate the owner is Dejan Djuric, and a separate record indicates he's about 29.

Advanced Munitions was only established on July 27, according to the Florida Department of State's Division of Corporations. Djuric is listed at the president, vice president and secretary, but Diveroli's home address was listed as the mailing address for the business.

Diveroli told an undercover ATF officer supposedly interested in purchasing weapons and ammunition in a phone call in early August that Djuric's business, Advanced Munitions, bought Diveroli's, AmmoWorks, a week earlier. Diveroli said it wasn't beneficial to Advanced Munitions to have his name associated with it, so he would remain on board as a consultant and would get an exclusive consulting contract.

Djuric and Diveroli headed up the Florida Turnpike on Aug. 12 to meet up with associates "Jake" and "Aaron Monahan" and an undercover ATF officer in Brevard County. At around 2:20 p.m., the duo arrived in Jake's 2005 BMW convertible. Jake's initials are J.F.S., and he was born in 1986, while Aaron is an employee of Pinnacle Minerals Corporation, which is another Diveroli business in which Djuric is a partner.

Djuric and Diveroli arrived 11 minutes later, and made contact with the BMW, then met up with the undercover ATF officer and a cooperating source to discuss the potential weapons sale.

The undercover agent had already made Diveroli believe that a reputable firearms company, represented by the cooperating source, was interested in stamping the imported magazine drums with their logo for rebranding purposes.

They had discussed a scheme to import magazine drums from a South Korean factory that Diveroli had previously identified as "KCI." Diveroli personally entered into an exclusive rights contract with KCI which gave him the ability to purchase and import a minimum of 10,000 firearm drum magazines per month for a year.

After discussing the South Korean scheme, Diveroli told Aaron to get a box of assorted ammunition out of the trunk of his car and give it the to the undercover ATF agent.

A few days later, Diveroli and the undercover ATF agent spoke on the phone. Diveroli relayed that he had beenk in the Everglades hunting alligator, white tail deer, and hogs using .50 caliber black power rifle. They had a couple decent shots at an alligator, Diveroli said, but their vehicle got stuck in the mud, and a tow truck had to assist them.

On Aug. 20, Diveroli, Djuric, "Jake" and "Aaron" once again drove to meet with the undercover ATF agent. Diveroli said he did not bring any firearms, but the undercover agent offered up their supply for inspection. Diveroli surveyed the weapons and picked up first a semi-automatic 9mm Glock, then a semi-automatic rifle. He wanted to shoot, but he needed some ammo.

So Diveroli, Djuric, "Jake" and "Aaron" went to a nearby Wal-Mart, where they bought several hundred rounds of ammunition. When they returned to the meet-up area, Diveroli was arrested.

It is not known when, or if, the other suspects will be charged. ATF headquarters referred a phone call to the U.S. Attorney's office for the Middle District of Florida, which did not return a phone call seeking comment. The lawyer listed in the criminal docket, Cynthia Hawkins, also did not return photo calls

Judge: 'Abusive mother' may hurt other kids

Supreme Court accepts State's appeal, orders probation service to prepare review of threat posed by woman accused of starving her three-year-old son, in order to determine conditions of her arrest

The Supreme Court on Wednesday criticized the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court decision to place a woman suspected of abusing and starving her three-year-old son under house arrest before professional experts examined the threat she poses to her surroundings, and despite the fact that suspicions that she had hurt her other children have not been looked into.

"The decision to place her under house arrest was unusual," rules Justice Edna Arbel.

The judge accepted the State's appeal, ordering the probation service to immediately prepare a review of the threat posed by the woman in order to determine the conditions of her arrest.

In her decision, Justice Arbel noted that this case justifies – and even requires – such a review, even before a decision is made on the entire matter.

Last Friday, the Jerusalem District Court ruled that the mother would remain under house arrest in her house in the Mea Shearim neighborhood, despite the State demand that she be kept away from her home, from all of her children and from the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood.

The State appealed the decision, demanding a probation service review. On Wednesday, Justice Arbel accepted the appeal, ruling that the review would be submitted to the District Court within two weeks, on August 26 – three days after the woman's trial is scheduled to resume.

According to the judge, the court cannot ignore the material gathered as part of the investigation into the case, which points to the fact that the mother may be putting the rest of her children at risk. She added that this fear should be looked into.

Arbel noted that the indictment filed against the mother was severe, and that the offense attributed to her "includes, the way things are, a threat to minors." She added that the evidence included indications raising the fear that the woman's other children had been hurt, and that "such indications justify an examination and inspection".

"I believe that in light of the nature of the allegations against the mother, we cannot avoid examining the fear of threat at this time," Arbel wrote in her decision. "When taking into account that the mother is at home with her children, and that so far the general conduct in this case did not include full cooperation with the authorities, I think it would be right to start preparing a review now."

The judge concluded by saying that the court cannot ignore the fact that attempts have been made – even if not by the mother herself – to thwart the investigation, such as the children's failure to show up for their questioning sessions, and expressed her hope that they would fully cooperate with the probation service's review.

'Most Wanted' fugitive nabbed in Bx.

A violent woman featured on "America's Most Wanted" during her 15 years on the lam in the point-blank shooting a man in Connecticut was nabbed after she beat up her boyfriend in The Bronx, cops said yesterday.

Patricia Carrion's run from the law finally came to an end at around 4 a.m. Saturday, when cops arrested her on charges of assaulting the 30-year-old man on Sheridan Avenue in Morrisania, authorities said.

When they brought Carrion, who claimed her name was Yesima Hernandez, back to the station house, her fingerprints revealed her true identity, sources said.

On the lam for 15 years. In 1995, in Meriden, Conn., Carrion, now 37, pulled a .32-caliber revolver from her waistband, shouted, "What are you doing on our block?" and shot a 20-year-old man four times in the chest, police said.

The victim survived and cops soon fingered Carrion, who allegedly had more than 80 bags of cocaine in her home, for the shooting.

Charges from The Bronx assault were dropped after her beau refused to cooperate, but Carrion is being held pending extradition to Connecticut.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Convicted Arms Dealer Faces New Charges

Miami Beach, FL - Efraim E. Diveroli, the brash young Miami Beach arms dealer who landed a $300 million contract with the Pentagon to buy and ship munitions to Afghanistan only to have it unravel in a sprawling criminal case, was in custody again in Florida on Monday, facing new federal charges.

Mr. Diveroli, 24, was arrested Friday in Brevard County, Fla., and charged with possession of firearms as a convicted felon and with possession of firearms while under indictment for a felony offense.

After a brief appearance at a detention hearing on Monday in Federal District Court in Orlando, he was ordered held without bail in the Orange County Corrections Department.

The two criminal counts appeared to be initial charges intended to detain Mr. Diveroli pending the results of investigation into a more extensive criminal enterprise.

An 18-page affidavit filed late last week by Kevin McCann, a special agent for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, described Mr. Diveroli as operating a front company, Advanced Munitions, to solicit business as an arms dealer. Mr. Diveroli has no federal license for arms brokering and is forbidden as a convicted felon from handling firearms.

According to the complaint, on July 14, Mr. Diveroli solicited business from an unnamed licensed dealer to trade in ammunition, magazines and machine guns, which he hoped the other dealer might provide him for “resale in the Miami area.” The dealer notified the authorities, who opened an investigation.

Mr. Diveroli was later recorded in conversations with undercover A.T.F. agents in which he said he was a consultant for a company that needed help “with the importation of 100-round ammunition drums” from a South Korean factory, and he hoped to ship these items into the United States at the rate of 120,000 pieces a year.

In other conversations, Mr. Diveroli, who later identified himself as “a private equity company” and did business under the company names of “LOW LLC, “AmmoWorks,” “Advanced Munitions,” and “Pinnacle Minerals Corporation,” also offered rifle cartridges for sale, including a “trial order” to sample an available inventory of five million or six million rounds.

Mr. Diveroli was barely old enough in to legally drink in 2007 when the Pentagon entered a huge contract with him to buy munitions from former Eastern Bloc depots and ship them to Kabul, Afghanistan.

The munitions he sold under his company name, AEY Inc. - including hand- and rocket-propelled grenades, mortar and artillery rounds, and tens of millions of Kalashnikov rifle and machine-gun cartridges - were to be distributed to the fledgling Afghan security forces for the fight against the Taliban.

In 2008, as The New York Times investigated accusations that he was shipping decades-old Kalashnikov ammunition in corroded packaging to the war, and repackaging and obscuring the origins of Chinese cartridges procured from Albania, the United States Army abruptly suspended its contract with Mr. Diveroli and his firm.

The Pentagon and federal prosecutors later accused Mr. Diveroli of a criminal scheme to sell banned Chinese munitions to the Pentagon, and he was indicted on federal fraud and conspiracy charges. He pleaded guilty in 2009 to a single conspiracy count. He had been awaiting sentencing, which was scheduled for November.

The latest criminal complaint claimed that Mr. Diveroli, whose arms dealing once seemed to have ended with his conviction, was recorded by undercover agents on Aug. 4 saying that “he has a large stock of ammunition in the United States” and “has been unloading his ammunition the last couple of years.”

“Once a gun runner, always a gun runner,” the complaint said Mr. Diveroli told the agent.

In other recorded conversations, Mr. Diveroli appeared to boast of violations of his status as a felon awaiting sentencing.

On Aug. 11, he said that “earlier in the day he was shooting at the range” and a few days later, he was recorded saying that “he and a friend were recently hunting alligators, white tail deer and hogs in the Everglades” with a .50-caliber black-powder rifle.

That trip seemed to have been as ill-fated as his latest business venture. After “they got a couple of decent shots at an alligator,” Mr. Diveroli was recorded saying, their “vehicle got stuck in the mud” and they had to wait for a tow truck to retrieve them.

He was arrested Friday after driving to Brevard County to meet undercover agents. Brevard County is outside the federal Southern District of Florida, where Mr. Diveroli had agreed to remain while free as part of his presentencing conditions.

Mr. Diveroli examined and handled firearms brought to the meeting by the agents, including a Glock Model 17 semiautomatic pistol and a 7.62-millimeter semiautomatic rifle.

Mr. Diveroli, the affidavit said, was so enthused by the weapons that he suggested to companions traveling with him that they go to Wal-Mart and buy ammunition so they might go shooting.

At the Wal-Mart, Mr. Diveroli and his friends quickly bought several hundred rounds of ammunition and then drove back to meet the undercover agents again and presumably go to a shooting range.

He was promptly arrested, the complaint said, while sitting in a silver Audi convertible with the ammunition in the back seat.

Cantor's sour note

A prominent Manhattan cantor promised to buy an ambulance in Israel on behalf of his Holocaust-survivor mother-in-law -- but instead funneled the cash back to his own coffers through a charity run by a disgraced rabbi tied to a massive New Jersey corruption scandal, according to a Manhattan federal lawsuit.

Benny Rogosnitzky, 36, the cantor at the ritzy Park East Synagogue on the Upper East Side allegedly deposited a $132,500 check from his then mother-in-law with Brooklyn-based Magen Israel Society.

The charity is run by Rabbi Saul Kassin -- the leader of the nation's largest Syrian Sephardic Jewish Congregation -- who was indicted in the massive money-laundering scheme that rocked political landscape of New Jersey last year.

Rogosnitzky's ex-mother-in-law, Klara Ringel, an elderly Holocaust survivor and wealthy Democratic Party contributor from Lakewood, NJ, wanted the cash to go to the Israeli version of the Red Cross -- the similarly named Magen David Adom -- to buy an ambulance in the Ringel family name.

Instead, the cash went to the rabbi's charity, which took a $10,000 cut, according to court papers. The group then gave the rest back to Rogosnitzky in a series of checks made out to his organization, Cantor's World, and some of his relatives, the documents claim.

The charity allegedly cut checks in sums lower than $10,000 so the transactions would fly under the radar of authorities.

Rogosnitzky, who spent 14 years at the posh Upper West Side Jewish Center on 86th Street until June 2009, then cashed those checks with Reliable Check Cashing Service, the lawsuit claims.

Kassin's charity was at the center of the rabbi's indictment last summer for allegedly similarly skimming money raised for Israel and educational services.

Federal agents questioned several people who are close to Rogosnitzky in their probe of Kassin, but the cantor has not been charged with a crime, sources said.

"These accusations are baseless," said Rogosnitzky's spokesman Andre Moesel, who claimed that the allegations are the work of bitter in-laws looking to ruin him. "Smearing a good man with lies is no way to bring resolution to a matrimonial issue," Moesel said.

Rogosnitzky and Ringel's daughter, Chana, married in August 2002. The couple had two children.

But increasing suspicions over missing money fractured his marriage. Since October 2007, the couple has been locked in a fierce divorce battle.

Ringel's lawyer, David Jaroslawicz, said the family went to court to retrieve the $132,500 last July after Kassin turned over copies of the checks Rogosnitzky deposited with his organization.

"We saw that the checks went directly to the cantor, and we figured out what happened," Jaroslawicz said.

"Klara Ringel is a widow and over 80 years old, and this whole scenario, to find out her son-in-law has been stealing from her has been devastating," said Jaroslawicz.

Rothstein Chabad Insider Speaks Out Against Rabbi, Secrecy

Kim, Rothstein, and Rabbi Kaplan. Kim converted to Judaism after marrying Rothstein.
He won't give his name, but as he sat across from me in a Fort Lauderdale eatery today, he was clearly stressed as he talked about the place of worship, the Downtown Jewish Center Chabad.

​The chabad has been in the news because Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein was not only a dedicated member but he helped build it with his ill-begotten money. Rothstein's name, which used to be on the building, has been removed, but the stain he has left on the congregation is far from removed, said the man.
He wouldn't give his name for fear of retaliation and losing, as he put it, "everything." He said he has become disillusioned with the DJCC, Rabbi Schneur Kaplan, and the entire chabad movement since Rothstein's billion-dollar Ponzi scheme imploded in late October.

But a slight smile crosses his face when he remembers first meeting Rothstein five or six years ago.

"He was driving a red Rolls-Royce, a Corniche II convertible with red leather interior," said the man. "It was a very nice car. And he had a great voice, a beautiful voice,

voice, a beautiful tenor. There was a joke that if the law career thing didn't pan out he could have a career as a singer. Who knew how funny that would become? Now he's singing like a canary."

​Rothstein has indeed been cooperating with the government since his return from Morocco and is expected to join the Witness Protection Program after helping to make a case against an alleged Sicilian mobster. His former chabad, however, isn't being quite so talkative. Earlier this month, Rabbi Kaplan invoked the "clergy privilege" to try to thwart bankruptcy attorneys' attempts to determine if the chabad owes Rothstein creditors any clawback funds.
The insider says he has come to expect such secrecy from the chabad, which he calls, at its heart, a cult. The Chabad Lubavitch movement is too complicated to be described here, so I turn to our old friend Wikipedia for a link to help you understand it.

"The whole Chabad Lubavitch movement is a cult," he said. "They encourage you to do more and then a little more and then a little more. If you did a dollar today, they ask that you do a dollar-ten tomorrow. They deify the rabbi, and the whole thing is geared toward a united world Jewry. Everything that goes well is the work of God. What goes bad is the work of Satan, so you must do more tzedakah, charity. It's a very secretive organization, and at its core, it exists as a fundraiser."

Bankruptcy investigators want all records the chabad has related to Rothstein and a list of all its donors since 2007. A court hearing on the chabad's attempt to block those requests is scheduled for April 7. A phone call I left with Rabbi Kaplan at the chabad was unreturned at the time this post was published.

​"The privilege protects Kaplan from being rolled up in the Rothstein case, and it prevents the government from seizing the building," said the chabad insider. "Think about it: Right around the time Scott started with Kaplan was the time he started giving the money to build the synagogue. Rothstein put a lot of money into building that chabad."
How much?

"I believe it's three to five million dollars, but I haven't seen the numbers...," said the insider. "Rothstein once told Kaplan that he was going to buy him a house. Rothstein said he loved Kaplan. Rothstein never refused the rabbi a dollar, and when the rabbi needed money, he went to Rothstein. The rabbi comes across as this charming, charismatic man who is otherwise unassuming and doesn't make judgments. But I'll tell you now, he's the fucking Jim Bakker of Judaism."

The insider remembers the dedication of Kaplan's new chabad last year, when Rothstein gave a speech. Rothstein's name was placed on the outside of the chabad, along with that of his good friend, Ovadia Levy.

"I remember Scott gave this speech where he talked about how walking with the rabbi was like he was a little boy again and walking with his grandfather," said the insider. "Then he said, 'I go down on bended knee for you people for your good works. I salute you.' And there he is on his knee in his $10,000 suit. It was great theater and total bullshit."

The source recounted how Rothstein would drive to the chabad in his array of sports cars, the Ferrari, the Rolls, the Bugatti. He recounted seeing his giant rolled wad of cash held together with a rubber band. He said he would throw hundreds at waiters like someone "throwing dollar bills at a stripper."

The source also said that Rothstein made several day trips to New York in his plane, and he suspects he went there to hide money. And he suspects, though he's not certain, that he may have hidden some money in what he calls the "invisible banks" of the Jewish Orthodox world.

​"Chabad has a system of invisible banks; it has internal, in-house money lenders and internal deposits," said the source. "It's all based on trust and who you know. Say I'm going to give $100,000. I give the money, and then I get a little piece of paper with writing in Hebrew on it that has instructions. I get to Israel, I give them the piece of paper, and they give you the money. It's the same thing that's been going on in banks for centuries, only there is no oversight, no records, no taxes."
Interestingly, Kaplan's chabad isn't even recognized on, a website that is run "under the auspices of the Lubavitch World Headquarters." The insider says the reason for this is simple: Kaplan broke away from the sanctioned Lubavitch world and started his own renegade chabad in downtown without authorization.

The source said that the chabad system is all based on a territorial system and that the leader of the South Florida territory is Rabbi Abraham Korf, director of the Lubavitch Education Center in Miami Beach. Korf, he said, oversees all chabad operations from Palm Beach to the Florida Keys, and any new chabad must be approved by Korf, he said.

Kaplan came to South Florida in the late '90s and initially worked with Rabbi Moishe Meir Lipszyc of the Chabad Lubavitch of Fort Lauderdale. He said that Kaplan eventually broke from Lipszyc's chabad and took several of his followers with him, including former NFL player Alan "Schlomo" Veingrad and attorney Peter Itzler.

"He broke contact with the [chabad hierarchy] and set out on his own and did what he had to do," said the source. "In other words, he put his interests first. It was right around that time that he met Scott."

The insider says he wonders if the truth will ever come out about the Ponzi money Rothstein paid to Kaplan's chabad and likens the secrecy around the transactions to the Catholic Church scandals involving pedophilic priests.

"It's like dealing with the pope: Everything is a secret," said the source. "Why does the Catholic Church cover up child molestation? It's the same story here, only on this end, it's all about the money."

The insider said that in the end, the government has a duty to get to the bottom of everything when it comes to Rothstein, no matter how uncomfortable it might be.

"If we are cleaning out the criminals, we have to get them all," he said. "You have to go all the way. You can't leave just a little bit of the cancer behind."

להעמיד לדין את שמחיוף, רבין, פולק ולופוליאנסקי

המשטרה ממליצה להעמיד לדין שורת בכירים החשודים בפרשת הולינלנד. לופוליאנסקי: קיימת לגביו תשתית ראייתית לכאורה לביצוע עבירות של לקיחת שוחד, מירמה והפרת אמונים. פולק: כנ"ל, בתוספת הלבנת הון ועבירות מס. שמחיוף: כנ"ל. רבין: כנ"ל, בתוספת קשירת קשר לביצוע פשע.

המשטרה העבירה היום (ב´) לפרקליטות את המלצתה להעמיד לדין את ראש הממשלה לשעבר, אהוד אולמרט, ואת כל המעורבים הבכירים בפרשת הולילנד.

בין המעורבים שהמשטרה ממליצה להגיש נגדם כתבי אישום נמצאים החשודים במתן שוחד, אנשי העסקים הלל צ´רני ואביגדור קלנר ואיש העסקים דני דנקנר, החשוד גם הוא במתן שוחד.

כמו כן ממליצה המשטרה להעמיד לדין בפרשה שהסעירה את המדינה את שולה זקן, מי שהיתה ראש לשכתו של אהוד אולמרט; ואת ראש עיריית ירושלים לשעבר, אורי לופוליאנסקי.

לגבי מקורבו של אולמרט, עו"ד אורי מסר, לא התגבשה תשתית ראייתית מספקת לביצוע העבירות שיוחסו לו.

בהודעה שהוציאה לפני שעה קלה מסרה המשטרה כי היחידה הארצית לחקירות הונאה במשטרה סיימה היום את חקירת פרשת הולילנד - פרשת שחיתות ציבורית רחבת היקף בעניין פרויקט הבנייה הולילנד בירושלים ובעניין מספר פרויקטים נוספים בתחום הנדל"ן - תעשיות המלח, חברת הזרע, צוק מנרה ועמק הצבאים.

במסגרת החקירה נגבו קרוב ל-600 הודעות מכ-250 מעורבים. כ-50 מעורבים נחקרו באזהרה, ובוצע חיקור דין בארה"ב.

מעצרם של 13 חשודים הוארך בבית המשפט לתקופות שונות: מאיר רבין, הלל צ´רני, אורי מסר, אורי שטרית, אלי חסון, אביגדור קלנר, אורי לופוליאנסקי, יעקב אפרתי, דני דנקנר, שולה זקן, אליעזר שמחיוף, יהושע פולק ומתי חותה. כל העררים על החלטות המעצר - 14 שהוגשו לבית המשפט המחוזי ו-2 שהוגשו לבית המשפט העליון - נדחו.

מהמשטרה נמסר עוד כי עדותו של עד המדינה בפרשה קיבלה תמיכה בשורה ארוכה של ראיות עצמאיות, לרבות בעדויות ובמסמכים מתקופת האירועים, כשחלק מראיות עצמאיות אלה כשלעצמו מבסס את החשדות.

לדברי המשטרה, נמצאה תשתית ראייתית לכאורה למעורבותם של החשודים השונים בעבירות פליליות שונות, כדלקמן:

החשודים במתן השוחד

* הלל צ´רני - איש עסקים ומבעלי הקרקע של מתחם הולילנד ומתחם צוק מנרה: קיימת תשתית ראייתית לכאורה לביצוע עבירות של מתן שוחד, הלבנת הון ורישום כוזב במסמכי תאגיד ועבירות מס.

* מאיר רבין - עוזרו האישי של עד המדינה בין השנים 1997-2007: קיימת לגביו תשתית ראייתית לכאורה לביצוע עבירות של מתן שוחד, קשירת קשר לביצוע פשע, הלבנת הון ועבירות מס.

* אביגדור קלנר - בעל מניות ונושא משרה בכיר בחברת "הולילנד פארק" ובחברת "הזרע" בתקופה הרלוונטית לחקירה. במהלך שנת 2007 פרש מתפקידיו בחברות הנ"ל ופנה לעסקים פרטיים: קיימת תשתית ראייתית לכאורה לביצוע עבירות של מתן שוחד, עבירות מנהלים בתאגיד, מירמה והפרת אמונים בתאגיד, שיבוש מהלכי חקירה, הלבנת הון, עבירות מס ורישום כוזב במסמכי תאגיד.

* רו"ח אלי חסון - חשב חברת הולילנד: קיימת לגביו תשתית ראייתית לכאורה לביצוע עבירות של רישום כוזב במסמכי תאגיד וסיוע למתן שוחד ועבירות מס.

* דני דנקנר - יו"ר דירקטוריון חברת תעשיות המלח וסגן יו"ר דירקטוריון בנק הפועלים בתקופה הרלוונטית לחקירה: קיימת לגביו תשתית ראייתית לכאורה לביצוע עבירות של מתן שוחד, רישום כוזב במסמכי תאגיד ועבירות מס.

החשודים בקבלת השוחד

* אורי שטרית - אדריכל, מהנדס עיריית ירושלים בין השנים 2001-2006: קיימת לגביו תשתית ראייתית לכאורה לביצוע עבירות של לקיחת שוחד, מירמה והפרת אמונים, הלבנת הון, רישום כוזב במסמכי תאגיד ועבירות מס.

* אהוד אולמרט - ראש עיריית ירושלים בין השנים 1993-2003 ושר התמ"ת בין השנים 2003-2006. קיימת לגביו תשתית ראייתית לכאורה לביצוע עבירות של לקיחת שוחד, מירמה והפרת אמונים.

* שולה זקן - ראש לשכתו של אהוד אולמרט בתפקידיו כראש עיריית ירושלים, כשר התמ"ת וכראש הממשלה: התגבשה כנגדה תשתית ראייתית לכאורה לביצוע עבירות של לקיחת שוחד, תיווך בשוחד, מירמה והפרת אמונים והלבנת הון.

* אלי שמחיוף - סגן ראש עיריית ירושלים בשכר בין השנים 2003-2008. קיימת לגביו תשתית ראייתית לכאורה לביצוע עבירות של לקיחת שוחד, מירמה והפרת אמונים, הלבנת הון ועבירות מס.

* יהושע פולק - סגן ראש עיריית ירושלים, יו"ר הוועדה המקומית והממונה על אגף ההנדסה בעירייה בין השנים 2003-2008. כיום משמש כגזבר המועצה המקומית בית"ר-עילית: קיימת לגביו תשתית ראייתית לכאורה לביצוע עבירות של לקיחת שוחד, מירמה והפרת אמונים, הלבנת הון ועבירות מס.

חשד לעבירות אחרות

* יעקב אפרתי - מנהל מינהל מקרקעי ישראל בתקופה הרלוונטית לחקירה: קיימת לגביו תשתית ראייתית לכאורה לביצוע עבירות מירמה והפרת אמונים.

לא נמצאה תשתית ראייתית

* מתי חותה - יו"ר הוועדה המחוזית לתכנון ובנייה ויו"ר וועדת המשנה להתנגדויות בין השנים 1996-2004. לא התגבשה תשתית ראייתית מספקת לביצוע העבירות שיוחסו לו.

* עו"ד אורי מסר - ושותפו בעבר של אהוד אולמרט: לא התגבשה לגביו תשתית ראייתית מספקת לביצוע העבירות שיוחסו לו.

* אורי לופוליאנסקי - סגן ראש עיריית ירושלים, יו"ר הוועדה המקומית לתכנון ובנייה וממונה על אגף ההנדסה בעיר בין השנים 1993-2003. ראש עיריית ירושלים בין השנים 2003-2008. קיימת לגביו תשתית ראייתית לכאורה לביצוע עבירות של לקיחת שוחד, מירמה והפרת אמונים.

ראש אגף חקירות ומודיעין במשטרה הנחה להעביר את תיק החקירה ואת הסיכום לפרקליט המדינה ולפרקליטות תל-אביב (מיסוי וכלכלה).

קשר לפרשות אולמרט האחרות

‏במרכז הפרשה, כאמור, נמצא אולמרט - החשוד כי בעת שכיהן כראש עיריית ירושלים לקח שוחד מיזמי פרויקט הולילנד, הלל צ´רני ואביגדור קלנר, בתיווכה של שולה זקן, תמורת סיוע בקידום פרויקט הבנייה העצום.

כזכור, נגד אולמרט מתנהל בימים אלה משפט בשתי פרשות נוספות - מרכז ההשקעות ו"מעטפות הכסף" של משה טלנסקי - בבית המשפט המחוזי בירושלים.

נזכיר כי במהלך דיון במשפטו של אולמרט בחודש שעבר עידכן התובע בתיק, עו"ד אורי קורב, כי נמצא קשר בין פרשת הולילנד לבין הפרשות מרכז ההשקעות וטלנסקי. לדבריו, "קיים ממשק בין חומר החקירה החדש לבין חומרי החקירה הנמצאים בתיק ובכתב האישום, בעיקר בהיבט הראייתי של מימון מערכות בחירות של אולמרט".

"להמלצת המשטרה אין שום משמעות"

"במקום להמליץ המלצות חסרות שחר, ראוי היה שהמשטרה תפסיק להסתיר מידע מהציבור ותסיר סוף-סוף את צו איסור הפרסום השערורייתי בעניינו של עד המדינה שקיים כבר חצי שנה", מסר בתגובה יועצו של אולמרט, אמיר דן. "חשוב שהציבור יידע את הפרטים האמיתיים והבעייתיים הנוגעים לדמות זאת, עליה מסתמכת כל-כך המשטרה".

דן הוסיף כי "אולמרט הצהיר בצורה הברורה ביותר כי מעולם לא לקח שוחד, לא במישרין ולא בעקיפין. אין זה מפתיע כי לאחר חודשים שהמשטרה יוצרת כותרות מגמתיות, אין לה את האומץ הציבורי לסגור את התיק. להמלצה של המשטרה אין שום משמעות אמיתית, שכן למשטרה אין שום אחריות בעניין זה מלבד הכותרות שהיא יוצרת לעצמה".

לדברי גורמים מצוות ההגנה של אולמרט, "בכל פעם שהפרקליטות סופגת ביקורת קשה, הם, או המשטרה, ממהרים להוציא הודעות בעניין אולמרט כדי להסיט את האש מהם".

Police arrest suspect in Galant document affair upon arrival in Israel

An Israeli businessman and former high-ranking Israel Defense Forces officer suspected of forging the Galant document has been arrested upon arrival at Ben-Gurion International Airport, Israel Police said on Monday.

Police on Friday issued an arrest warrant for Lt. Col. (res.) Boaz Harpaz, who has been linked to the so-called Galant document, which purports to outline a PR campaign for Major-General Yoav Galant in his efforts to become the next Israel Defense Forces chief of staff.

On Sunday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak ended weeks of speculation by naming Galant as the next IDF chief of staff.

Harpaz, who arrived in Israel from Europe on an inbound flight to Ben-Gurion Airport, was arrested at 14:30 P.M. on Monday, and is expected to face a Petah Tikvah magistrate's court for a remand hearing on noon Tuesday.

The former IDF top officer had served on the general staff of Israel Defense Force's Military Intelligence Directorate, leaving the army about nine years ago amid controversy, as he was accused by some of mishandling secured information.

At the time, Harpaz considered the accusations to be a part of a personal smear campaign against him, saying that then head of military intelligence Major General Aharon Zeevi was singling him out for personal reasons.

Harpaz, who wished to retain his security clearance after his release from the IDF, led a legal battle against the Shin Bet on the matter.

Since his release Harpaz has worked as a businessman and security advisor, as the president of the Pickel Security company, until he left the firm following a row with the firm's other partners, ex-Mossad man Ami Yaar and Gabriel Yabetz.

Harpez then founded his own security counseling firm, PICSEC, which has operated in Italy, among other locations, and which has also dealt with port security.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Yeshiva in the snoop

A Brooklyn yeshiva wants parents and pupils to abide by an 11th Commandment -- thou shalt not surf the Web for porn.

Tiferes Yisroel, a popular all-boys Jewish school on East 35th Street in Flatbush, has demanded parents buy 'Net-nanny software to monitor their households' online activity.

Parents then have to assign a chaver, or friend, to get detailed Web-browsing histories automatically e-mailed to them by a $5-per-month monitoring service called WebChaver.

Administrators at the 763-student Orthodox elementary and high school say the system is necessary to prevent online experiences that just are not kosher.

"We are following the dictates of our [rabbis] -- that as human beings, we cannot trust ourselves. This is proper education," said a letter from school officials mailed to parents this month.

Some parents scoffed at the Big Brother edict.

"Of course I'm not signing up. They really just want to monitor the parents," fumed one father, who noted that his two young children are not even allowed to use the home computer.

"I'm not paying $60 a year so they can monitor me. I don't go to that school -- my kids do."

While other Jewish schools have suggested parents use the spy system, Tiferes Yisroel is the first local one to actually demand that they do.

Only about 20 parents have agreed, a source said.

Rabbis at the school urged parents choose an eagle-eyed, and preferably female, chaver.

"It is our strong recommendation that our chaver should be outside the immediate family -- certainly not a male member of our immediate family," the letter said.

WebChaver, run by a New Jersey-based nonprofit, will give school officials a list of the parents who sign up and their chavers.

Administrators at the school did not return calls seeking comment.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Knicks star Amar'e Stoudemire keeps things kosher

is Jewish -- sorta.

The $100 million New York Knick, who recently traveled to Israel to research his Jewish roots, told Page Six yesterday that he's a practicing Jew "spiritually and culturally" -- and he's even keeping kosher, he says.

"I'm not a religious person, so it's not from a religious standpoint," he said.

Stoudemire sat with Page Six after traveling with 30 kids on a double-decker bus from Madison Square Garden to Times Square, where a billboard for the Garden of Dreams Foundation was unveiled.

The NBA All-Star said he was pointed toward Judaism by his "very spiritual" mother, and by his reading of scriptures since he was young. "I didn't grow up in a Jewish home. I never had a bar mitzvah, never celebrated the holy days growing up," Stoudemire said.

since returning from Israel, where he toured Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and the Dead Sea, Stoudemire is keeping up with his studies: "I figure, what the scriptures speak about, that's what I celebrate."

When told that some cynics suggest his new faith may help sell more Knicks tickets, Amar'e responded, "This has nothing to do with New York." For the past 2½ years, he's had a large "12 Tribes" tattoo -- referring to the 12 Tribes of Israel -- on his left bicep.

Stoudemire was inked with a Star of David tattoo on his left hand about "four or five months" ago, and has been tweeting in Hebrew for more than a year. He said he won't miss any games during the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur -- "Playing the games are my livelihood. But I'm still going to celebrate the holidays."

The 6-10 forward recently visited Midtown kosher steakhouse Prime Grill, where he received an after-dinner blessing with Rabbi Joshua Metzger (see photo, opposite page). At The Lion on West Ninth Street, he requested a kosher meal -- fish and grilled tomatoes. Mazel tov!

Clerk at kosher liquor store in Brooklyn gunned down trying to protect girlfriend during robbery

A beloved Brooklyn wine store clerk was gunned down Thursday night when he tried to protect his girlfriend, who was being robbed of her jewelry at gunpoint, police and witnesses said.

Yoseph Robinson, 34, took slugs in the chest and arm and died behind the counter of MB Vineyards, a kosher liquor store in Midwood, police said.

"The girl came running out screaming, and I saw him on the floor. She said, 'They shot Yoseph!' said a witness who identified himself as Daniel. "She was with him as he was dying. ... He told her, 'Tell my daughter I love her.'"

A holdup man entered the Nostrand Ave. store about 9:30 p.m. and went after the young woman - identified by friends as Lahava - but were confronted by Robinson, police said.

Friends said Lahava, who was helping Robinson write a book, told them she was joking around and laughing with him when the thug demanded her bling.

Robinson yelled, "Leave her alone" and approached the man. A struggle broke out, and he was shot, said Daniel, recounting Lahava's harrowing tale.

"Yoseph saved me," a badly shaken and weeping Lahava told friends outside the store.

The owner of an adjoining shop said, "I heard screaming, yelling and then the shots."

Robinson was working late because the store remains open till 11 p.m. on Thursdays, the day before the Sabbath. It usually closes at 9:30 p.m., friends said.

Samuel Kauffman, 43, wasn't suprised at Robinson's heroics.

"He would always tell people to be morally strong. He was a role model to all the kids in the neighborhood. He was very spirtual. He inspired all of us."

The bandit fled the shop on foot, and it was unclear if he made off with the jewelry, police said.

More than 50 people from the surrounding Jewish community quickly gathered at the store to mourn Robinson, a popular figure in the neighborhood who had come to the U.S. from Jamaica and recently converted to Judaism.

Robinson, who took lyrics from the Torah and turned them into reggae songs, came to Brooklyn a few years ago after a drug problem short-circuited his music career in Los Angeles.

Robinson wore traditional Orthodox garb in the store and enjoyed telling customers about his "spiritual transformation from drug user and party guy to religious Jew and the book he was writing about the experience," a friend said.

"He was a kind and generous man who talked to all of us. He gave us so much. You had to stop at the store just to hear his stories. He was truly an amazing man," said Tzvi Freund, 25.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

מעשים מגונים בבית הכנסת: "הרבנים ידעו ושתקו"

תושב ירושלים, בן 45, נעצר רק שנתיים לאחר שהטריד מינית כעשרה קטינים בבית הכנסת בו הם מתפללים. מתברר כי רבני הקהילה ידעו, אך לא התלוננו

הציע כסף לקטינים בבית כנסת - וביצע בהם מעשים מגונים ומעשי סדום. בכך חשוד תושב ירושלים, שמעצרו הוארך היום (ה') בבית משפט השלום בירושלים. גיל דבש, בן 45, נעצר אתמול על ידי חוקרי מרחב מוריה, בחשד כי ביצע מעשים מגונים ומעשי סדום בכעשרה קטינים במהלך השנים האחרונות.

על פי החשד, הוא הגיע לבית הכנסת בשכונת בית וגן, בו התפללו הקטינים, הציע להם כסף - וביצע בהם את זממו. בחקירתו הודה החשוד כי ביצע מספר רב של מקרים כאלו. שופט בית משפט השלום, שמעון פיינברג, קבע כי יש להאריך את מעצרו: "יש יסוד סביר לחשד שביצע את המיוחס לו".

למשטרה נודע על ההאשמות רק בתקופה האחרונה, כשנתיים אחרי מקרה ההטרדה האחרון, לאחר שהחשוד חזר להסתובב ליד בית הכנסת והוגשה נגדו

תלונה. נציג המשטרה בדיון אמר כי "מדובר בפדופיל מסוכן, שהודה כי נמשך לילדים. ואסור שאדם כזה יסתובב חופשי".

הוא הוסיף כי רבני הקהילה ידעו על המעשים, אך לא עדכנו את המשטרה. הם החליטו להדיר אותו מבית הכנסת, אליו כאמור חזר בימים האחרונים. עורכת הדין לאה סלובין מהסנגוריה הציבורית, המייצגת את החשוד, אמרה בתום הדיון כי החשוד סיפר לה שהוקל לו אחרי מעצרו: "הוא סובל מנקיפות מצפון ושוקל ללכת לטיפול".

Who recognizes this criminal ????

מי שמכיר אותי יודע כי אני לא חשוד על הציונות ..אבל אתמול נפל דבר בישראל רב בישראל נכנס לקנות ספרי קודש
במאה שערים קבוצה של פרחחים חסרי חינוך התאספו סביב החנות וצעקו בקראות גנאי בושה וחרפה ... על מה ולמה
אבל החמור מכל שרואים בסרט המצו"ב אדם חרדי בגלאי ה30 תוקף את רכבו של הרב ?? עד מתי ניתן
לקבוצה טרוריסטיט ושפלה להכתיב לנו את סדר יומינו איפה קול המחאה כנגדם שלא נשמע ומי זה הנבל שבתמונות שתוקף
את רכבו של הרב מצגר

The arms dealer who flies Zuma

The Tefillin Bank

The International Tefillin Bank was founded in the USA and brought to Africa by Rabbi Dovid Wineberg in association with the Ichikowitz family. The Tefillin bank of Africa exists to make Tefillin accessible to Jewish males throughout Africa by providing every committed Jewish male with a pair of Tefillin. This initiative aims to bind Tefillin to Jewish males in Africa through education and core torah values and will ultimately lead to greater protection and security for the State of Israel, South Africa and the Jewish Community

Ivor Ichikowitz, the arms and oil broker who laid on his company jet to ferry Nelson Mandela to a Jacob Zuma election rally in Transkei, has made a career from turning political connections into profit.

Last December Ichikowitz flew Zuma in the luxuriously converted Boeing 727 to Lebanon and Kazakhstan for what the Mail & Guardian understands were African National Congress (ANC) fundraising and business meetings.

Ichikowitz confirmed he provided that flight gratis, but said he went along to test recent upgrades to the jet and did not attend the meetings.

At its commercial charter rate, $14 000 an hour, a return trip to Kazakhstan would have cost upwards of R5-million.

An M&G probe of Ichikowitz’s relations with the ANC and prominent Zuma backers indicates a man who has made it his business to get close to key power-brokers.

They include:

Mathews Phosa, who shared a number of company directorships with Ichikowitz before his elevation to ANC treasurer;

Moeletsi Mbeki, brother of the former president, who opened doors for Ichikowitz into Africa;

Sandi Majali, former Thabo Mbeki acolyte and business frontman for the ANC and Kgalema Motlanthe in ill-fated oil trades with Saddam Hussein;

Robert Gumede, owner of IT company GijimaAST and a prominent Zuma backer;

Pik Botha, former National Party politician and long-time friend of the Ichikowitz family, who provided an entrée to African leaders including former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo.
Ichikowitz (42) made a fortune selling surplus South African armoured vehicles into Africa and the Middle East, and seems to have manoeuvred his way into Zuma’s inner circle.

He was prominent among public donors to the ANC at a Zuma fundraiser organised by Gumede in October last year, pledging R6-million.

He told the M&G the business community should "transparently and voluntarily provide both the financial and skills resources political parties need to participate in the democratic process".

He denies direct or indirect business dealings with any political party. But his best-known entanglement with ANC funding occurred via his association with Majali and his Imvume group.

Ichikowitz, who also represents controversial commodities trader Glencore, partnered Majali in his 2001 bid to supply Iraqi crude to South Africa under the controversial oil-for-food programme allowing limited trade with Saddam’s Iraq.

In 2005 the M&G revealed Majali, with official ANC backing, intended setting up an oil trading operation intended to benefit the ANC and Saddam’s Ba’ath party.

Ichikowitz was also Majali’s partner in a contract to supply PetroSA condensate for its Mossel Bay refinery.

The M&G exposed how Majali diverted R11-million of state oil money to the ANC before the 2004 election, but Oilgate also strained relations between the partners as Majali's actions created a cash-flow crisis for Ichikowitz's company.

Ichikowitz told the M&G he was unaware of the link between Majali's company and the ANC and is no longer in business with Majali.

Moeletsi Mbeki, a key strategist for the Congress of the People, now appears to distance himself from close association with Ichikowitz. He said they were now in only one business together, a cattle feedlot enterprise.

Company records show a number of past African joint ventures, including the agency for Mahindra vehicle sales in South Africa.

Ichikowitz said they had been friends "for many years" and went into business together about six years ago.

He said he had been friends with Gumede since about 1989 "and [we] worked together in our family business before he started his own businesses".

"We have no active business together and remain family friends."

Phosa once served on the boards of several companies with Ichikowitz, notably Vuka Fleet Management and Vuka Municipal Services, joint ventures between Phosa’s Vuka group and TFM, the truck body manufacturer hived off from the armoured vehicle company now owned by BAE-Systems.

Ichikowitz said Phosa had been "a family friend since his return from exile in the 1990s ... I have no interest in Mathews's businesses, nor he in mine."

Ichikowitz may have slipped easily from the Mbeki era into the post-Polokwane ANC, but he has also taken advantage of family political connections stretching back to apartheid.

A source close to the family said former apartheid foreign minister Pik Botha was introduced to the Ichikowitzes by the late John Pearce, then the Johannesburg council’s security head.

Pearce, embedded in the apartheid security establishment, was fired in 1991 following revelations about military intelligence dirty-tricks operations.

Botha, whom Ichikowitz describes as "a long-standing friend", has been an informal adviser to Ichikowitz and was also said to have promoted Ichikowitz’s other main business: selling reconditioned surplus South African military equipment into Africa and the Middle East.

Here too, Ichikowitz appears to have benefited from his ANC associations, with a defence department investigation into his trading activities suppressed before it could produce results.

Perv rabbi gets special jail meals

It's unholy.

A rabbi convicted of sexually abusing a teenage boy has his kosher meals picked up from a Queens store by an on-duty jail captain.

Baruch Lebovits, a once-respected Satmar rabbi from Brooklyn, gets the special food brought straight to his Rikers Island cell, even though the jail already provides kosher dishes for its Jewish prisoners.

Apparently, they aren't blessed enough for Lebovits, 59, who has been moaning for months that he couldn't eat the food because it hadn't had proper rabbinical supervision, sources said.

Lebovits' adherence to holy law apparently didn't preclude repeatedly sexually abusing a 16-year-old classmate of his son, a heinous crime for which he was sentenced in March to up to 32 years in prison.

The Brooklyn rabbi is on Rikers awaiting trial in another sex abuse case.

On Thursday, a Rikers jail captain was ordered to pick up $60 worth of glatt kosher canned meals for the sicko, including Salisbury steak, stuffed shells, cheese ravioli and barbecued chicken wings from Alle Processing in Maspeth, Queens, an e-mail obtained by The Post shows.

The company offered to mail the food, but because of a delay, the captain went in person to pick up the package.

Lebovits' special daily diet also includes dry cereal, a box of matzo, four ounces of kosher grape juice and fresh fruit and veggies -- provided to him uncut, lest they were touched by a knife that cut non-kosher food.

Paulette Johnson, the Correction Department's head of food services, approved the arrangement.

Lebovits' own influential Satmar rabbi, Moshe David Neiderman, played a key role in convincing jail officials.

"This is not a privilege or an accommodation -- it's a right," said Neiderman, president of the United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg.

"Any Jewish prisoner has the religious right to eat food that is appropriate according his religious traditions."

But a Jewish advocate said: "That's a big chutzpah."

"They are bending over backwards to help this molester," said the advocate, who asked to remain anonymous.

"None of the other Jewish inmates can get that same food," he said.

Correction officials say they're just following the law.

"Congress enacted the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000. The Department provides glatt kosher meals consistent with its requirements," said spokesman Stephen Morello.

This latest scandal comes a year after The Post exposed correction chaplain Rabbi Leib Glanz as wielding such power over the city detention center in lower Manhattan that he allowed a convict to hold his son's bar mitzvah there.

Glanz and a department chief resigned in wake of the reports.

FDNY chaplain Rabbi Joseph Potasnik criticized Lebovits' deal, saying, "There's no reason to give special food to one inmate."

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

'War of the Roses' hubby Simon Taub charged with trying to extort molester Baruch Lebovits' son

Sweater king Simon Taub has been busted on charges of trying to extort more than $50,000 from the son of a convicted child molester, his lawyer said Sunday.

Taub, 61, was arrested last week and accused of threatening to go to cops with allegations that the 31-year-old son of Baruch Lebovits had molested Taub's son.

Lebovits' son went to the Brooklyn district attorney's office and reported Taub's threats, sources said.

Taub was later released on $50,000 bail. The Daily News is withholding the name of the younger Lebovits.

Taub's arrest is another bizarre twist in the case of Lebovits, 59, once a respectable Borough Park cantor and travel agent. Lebovits is now in prison on a 10- to 32-year sentence for molesting a 16-year-old boy.

Jerry Schmetterer, a spokesman for Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes, said he couldn't comment on the probe because "it is an ongoing investigation."

But according to Taub's attorney, Ben Lieberman, "The complaint alleges that Mr. Taub tried to extort in excess of $50,000 from [the younger] Mr. Lebovits."

"The allegations say that Taub said, 'If you don't give me in excess of $50,000, I am going to report you - Mr. Lebovits - for molesting my son,'" Lieberman said, adding that his client "denies the charges and looks forward to his day in court."

Taub, who made millions in the garment business, has had a bitter and long-running divorce fight - nicknamed "War of the Roses" - with his wife, Chana. The couple built a wall in their Borough Park house because each refused to leave the marital home.

Who Killed Motty Borger?

WPIX confronts Rabbi Baruch Lebovits.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Bail hearing is postponed for Lakewood developer charged in $200M scam

LAKEWOOD — A judge has postponed a bail hearing scheduled for today in federal court in Newark for Eliyahu Weinstein, a Lakewood man accused of targeting members of his own tight-knit Orthodox Jewish community to perpetrate a $200 million global investment fraud.

The 35-year-old former used car salesman remains jailed after being arrested at his Ocean County home Thursday on charges of wire and bank fraud for the alleged real estate scheme, stretching from New Jersey, Florida and California to Israel.

Weinstein's defense attorney, Ephraim Savitt, said he needed more time to finalize his proposed $5-million bail package.

“I would love to get my client out today. On the other hand I can't do it this minute,” Savitt said. His proposed bail package would also call for Weinstein to be confined to his home and wear an electronic monitoring device.

Weinstein faces up to life in prison and travels regularly to Israel. Federal prosecutors argued that nothing short of jail would prevent him from trying to escape overseas.

"The defendant has a profound motivation to flee,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Zach Intrater.

The FBI continues to search for one of Weinstein's accused partner, Vladimir Siforov, 43, of Manalapan, who remains at large.

Weinstein has been the subject of millions of dollars in court judgments, including a $34 million award filed against him last week in Pennsylvania.

He never owned many of the properties he described to unsuspecting investors, and he sold both fake and real interests multiple times, according to the federal charges.

Weinstein also drew up fraudulent leases, prosecutors said, to entice investors by making it appear properties had substantial rental income, when there was no tenant.

Underwhere?! Drug suspect warns cops of criminals wearing underwear with hidden pockets

The NYPD is warning cops to be on the lookout for criminals wearing underwear with hidden pockets for their stash.

Police said Monday they learned about the invention during the bust of a Brooklyn marijuana suspect last month.

"It was found that many companies carry this type of underwear with a secret pocket for males and females," police said in an officer safety alert. "The arrested perpetrator gave information that drugs and weapons are being concealed in underwear that contains secret pockets."

Several companies make such undergarments, but the memo cites the $12 Pocket Boxer Briefs made by Stashitwear. The company's website shows a 2-liter bottle of Coca-Cola tucked into the 15-inch deep pocket.

There's also a demonstration of a wearer shoving money, two cigarettes, a cell phone, a wallet, a condom and a lighter, among other items, into the undies.

"I'm just trying to show you how big the pocket is," the demonstrator says, patting himself. "Can't even tell they're there. A thief would never know."

Company owner Phillip Scott did not respond to a request for comment, but he has said his targets are travelers looking to avoid getting ripped off - not drug dealers who want to hide their wares.

He said he got the idea after losing his wallet on a trip a few years ago.

The NYPD alert noted other companies are marketing similar garments, including the mind-boggling thongs with pockets.

Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne, the NYPD's top spokesman, said police have not found any criminals hiding contraband in their drawers since the alert went out.

Isaac Abraham: More Drugs Being Sold In Williamsburg Than At Walgreens

Last week’s shooting in Williamsburg’s Hasidic Quarter may be part of a larger trend of bloodshed and drug activity.

Three people have been struck by bullets in the Southside, according to the 90th Precinct, which stretches south of Broadway to Flushing Avenue, most recently the shocking shooting of a rabbi’s son, Burech Halberstam, on the corner of Driggs Avenue and S. Ninth Street early last Tuesday.

Community leader Isaac Abraham is convinced the shooting is part of a larger trend of drug trafficking that has swept through South Williamsburg this summer.

“The 90th Precinct has to get more resources and drug enforcement to crack all the drug dens,” said Abraham. “The entire neighborhood knows where, when and by who to get it.”

Three people have been wounded in shootings in South Williamsburg over the past five weeks, though residents say that there have been several more incidents in the neighborhood.

On July 23, an 86-year old woman was shot in her leg inside her apartment near Havemeyer and S. Ninth streets after a neighbor flashed a gun and fired it.

And on July 3, a thug fired multiple rounds from loaded firearm into a crowd near Wythe Place and Taylor Street, grazing one man in his left foot.

Fortunately, neither victim was seriously injured.

Markos Masri, a resident of a public housing complex, was almost hit by a stray bullet in front of his house.

“I was relaxing with my friends and we saw two youngsters passing by and they shot my neighbor,” said Masri. “We all ran away. We came out later and I called the cops.”

Abraham has witnessed the aftermath of other shootings, which include multiple shell casings on Division Avenue near Berry Street after two drivers shot at each other and alarmed residents.

“It’s a farce,” said Abraham. “There are more drugs being sold in the area than at Walgreens. What do you expect?”

At a press conference held last week, Rabbi David Niederman offered a $5,000 reward for any information that would lead to the apprehension of the suspects in Halberstam’s shooting. He called the suspects, two Latino men, “bad apples” and said that the reward would send a message to people “who try to viciously rob and kill people.”

But Halberstam’s family said that police were not adequately patrolling the neighborhood and said that there should have been more police in the area.

Police from the 90th Precinct, which comprises the Southside and Bushwick, could not be reached for comment, but NYPD statistics do not suggest that the area has gotten lawless.

So far this year, there has been one murder in the entire precinct, down from four by this point last year. Assaults are down, but robberies are up — though neither by statistically significant amounts.

And, historically, crime is a tiny fraction of what it was when Halberstam’s mother was raising her wounded son.

In 1990, there were 24 murders recorded in the precinct.


Divorce, Morality & the Internet: Cause or Effect?
By: Martin E. Friedlander, Esq.

Is the internet causing divorces? The answer to this question is an
unequivocal, “yes.” In the community at large and specifically the Orthodox community,
authors and lecturers constantly forewarn the many dangers that the internet poses on
children. Very little information, however, is published as to the danger that adults face
while using the internet and viewing online pornography and the harmful effects that the
internet has on marriages. As adults, people have rights to view scenes and sites that
demean and portray individuals in the most horrific and disgusting manner, but this does
not diminish the detriment it causes on their moral and religious character.
We need to expose this culprit in the adult community; otherwise there will be
long lasting effects on the entire fabric of our society. People who would not be seen in
a bar or club if their lives depended on it, for fear of being seen in that environment, can
easily access all of the lures of that environment, and worse, with the click of a mouse,
this can be in the comfort of their home or business setting, without the accompanying
embarrassment. Unfortunately, all of society, including the Orthodox community,
has been plagued by this epidemic and its harmful effects. This does not diminish the
negative ramifications doing so has on the viewer and the influence it has on one’s family
life. There is no question that the immorality that has become rampant in the world has
infiltrated the Orthodox and Chareidi communities and the number of divorces based on
this has risen significantly.

From a religious standpoint, there are obviously halachik prohibitions against
viewing these materials. Community Rabbis and leaders have urged public awareness
about this subject due to the upsurge of immorality and infidelity as the cause of divorce
within the Orthodox community. Inappropriate computer usage and acts of immorality
have not been limited to gender, as it affects both men, women and even children within
the community. One of the topics that will be addressed in this article is the interaction
between the internet and its effect on divorce.

Frequenting these inappropriate sites is creating a new type of addiction. Those
who are affected need professional help and counseling. Any mental health professional
will unequivocally state that constantly viewing such content, sites, and videos,
negatively affects one’s mindset, decisions, and interactions with his/her spouse, children,
loved ones and others. In a countless number of legal cases involving excessive internet
usage, experts have presented data which reveals that the people engaged in this activity
all contain a manifest level of addictive behavior. Many people who are addicted to the
internet spend hours upon hours browsing the internet searching terms that we hope are
not in the vocabulary of a yeshiva educated individual. The extent of the addiction is
revealed by the fact that there are legal cases in which Orthodox people have generated
inappropriate searches for these sites even on the Sabbath and Jewish holidays. There
are also people who can not turn off their computer at the outset of the Sabbath, so that
they can feed their addiction throughout the Sabbath. Computer experts who had access
to internet addicts’ computers’ also remark regarding the extent of this phenomenon
that has entered our community. Forensic experts note that this epidemic can lead one to
transgress the Sabbath and Yom Tov.

The United States Senate heard testimony concerning internet pornography
usage and its effects on divorce and custody determinations. Dr. Mary Anne Layden of
the University of Pennsylvania indicated before the United States Senate at a hearing
relating to internet usage in 2005 that 40% of people addicted to the internet will lose
their spouse, 58% will suffer several financial losses and 27%-40% will lose their jobs or
At a meeting of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, it was found
that 56% of divorce cases involved one party’s obsessive interest of pornographic
websites and 47% of divorce cases involved spending excessive time on the computer.
Psychologist Janice Abrams has noted an explosion of online extra-marital affairs due to
its accessibility and anonymous nature. More than half of the population uses the internet
and 20-33% go online for these pursuits.

It is important for people to become aware of this predicament plaguing our
society and be able to detect when someone is suffering from an internet addiction in
order to help that person seek help and to rectify/save a marriage. Dr. Kimberly Young
indicates that many family/marital therapists are unfortunately not proficient in treating
this addiction. There are, however, common symptoms indicative of internet addiction,
such as spending excessive time on the computer and becoming very defensive when the
other spouse comes near the computer or enters the room where the computer is located.
1 Hearing on pornography’s impact on marriage & the family subcommittee on the constitution, civil rights
and property rights committee on judiciary. United States Senate. November 10, 2005.

In Israel, a discussion in the Rabbinic Courts has centered around a debate
regarding the similarities between eating virtual pork and engaging in online virtual sin
via pornographic websites. A case before the Rabbinical Court in Jerusalem involved
a woman suing her husband for divorce, on the grounds of virtual adultery. Virtual
fantasies are conducted by placing electrodes on the head while engaging in the online
fantasy. In particular, eating virtual pork is accomplished by placing electrodes on the
head, while placing bland food in the person’s mouth and the program to which the
electrodes are connected, simulates the food the person desires to eat. The Beis Din
had to grapple with this issue and its ramifications, but today, Batei Dinim are forced
to deal with situations far more serious than virtual adultery. The hurt one spouse
suffers after being confronted with the user’s habitual online browsing of inappropriate
material is undoubtedly a cause of divorce; the awareness is accompanied by a feeling of
unfaithfulness and disgust, which attacks the core of the marriage.
Surprisingly, Rabbinical Courts are not giving considerable weight to a parent’s
immorality and significant internet usage in deciding whether that parent should be
awarded custody of children. Has our society become so jaded that viewing this material
is no longer considered a significant factor in divorce and child custody matters before

the Rabbinical Court (Beis Din)?In New York, adultery is still generally a crime in secular courts, but individuals
are not generally prosecuted for this crime.
After numerous discussions with prominent Toanim, it has become clear that
unless there is an issue involving child pornography, then in a practical matter, Beis Din’s
view on infidelity and internet immorality will have no bearing on custody and parent
visitation determinations in divorce proceedings before them.

In my years of practice in the matrimonial field, I have seen a wide spectrum of
unfortunate cases involving internet usage. Despite claims that Orthodox Jews are an
insular community, the causes of divorce are universal and not limited by the constraints
of religion or level of religious observance.
Outcry from clients, family members, Rabbis, and community leaders regarding
internet usage and its negative impact on our lives is downplayed. Further uproar must
to be generated due to the lack of serious ramifications within the religious community
and its tribunals for violating the Jewish prohibitions against pornography and excessive
usage of the internet for inappropriate matters. The religious community must address
and acknowledge this epidemic. The number of Orthodox cases involving allegations
of excessive and inappropriate computer usage and acts of immorality is staggering and
it is growing. The usual and customary response that this problem does not plague the
religious community is ludicrous and simply untrue.
Countless families have been destroyed by the internet and other technology
and in many cases, children are unfortunately aware of the reasons behind their parents
divorce. As a result, they are exposed to this immoral behavior. The lesson children learn
from their parents’ behavior can only handicap their development and religious growth.
A recently created website has attracted much negative media attention and provides a
forum in which married Orthodox individuals may seek partners for extra-marital affairs.
The screen names and descriptions as reported are quite telling of the challenges we face
today. The fact that this website was established by allegedly religious individuals, for
religious individuals, makes one wonder what values our children are instilled with today
and the frightening ramifications that such sites will have on future generations. This site
has drawn significant negative media attention as well as the interest of law enforcement.

Internet addiction is an addiction like any other. Not only are there signs which
can be picked up on, but only through trained professional specialties in this area, can one
obtain proper assistance. This addiction has ruined many marriages, having placed
barriers in relationships between the addicted and their children, which at times requires
the parents contact to be supervised.

Martin Friedlander P.C. is a firm specializing in
matrimonial matters in both secular courts and Beis Din.
(212) 321-7092