Monday, August 8, 2011
Jewish woman who scammed thousands from fund for Holocaust victims gets year in jail
A Russian immigrant who helped more than two dozen crooks scam Holocaust reparations was sentenced this morning to a year and day behind bars.
Polina Anoshina, 63, broke down in tears as she begged for mercy for recruiting her family and friends -- including one person who wasn't even Jewish -- to take part in the scheme.
But Manhattan federal Judge Deborah Batts said she saw "no reason" to spare the Brighton Beach resident from time in the slammer.
Batts also ordered Anoshina to pay back the $105,000 she and her confederates stole as part of a massive, $42.5 million fraud on the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
Anoshina was the first person sentenced in a case that saw 17 people busted last year in a brazen scam that authorities said dated back to 1993.
Six former Claims Conference employees -- including alleged mastermind Semen Dominster, who oversaw two compensation funds -- allegedly rubber-stamped more than 5,600 phony aid applications in exchange for kickbacks.
In court this morning, prosecutor Christopher Frey said Anoshina "lined her own pockets" with about $9,000 by exploiting Germany's efforts to make good on the "unspeakable tragedy of Hitler and the Nazi regime."
Defense lawyer Mark Zawisny argued that his client was only "a very small part of a very large wheel," and that "she thought she was entitled to receive some benefits" after being born and raised in "war-torn Russia."
Anoshina, who spoke through an interpreter, said she had always "lived a very honest life" and was was still struggling to understand "why and how I could do this."
"I swear for the rest of my life I will never break the law again," she sobbed.