NY - The New York State Attorney General’s office has file suit in Kings County Supreme Court against Brooklyn Rabbi Yaakov Weingarten, his wife Rivka, and his two employees David Yifat and Simon Weiss charging that all are complicit in stealing “hundreds of thousands-if not millions” of dollars in donations targeted for Israeli charities.
A story that was Reported On June 25th, the suit follows a prolonged, laborious effort by the AG’s office to extract cooperation from Weingarten with regard to his running of some twenty charities and his fundraising practices.
According to court documents, none of Weingarten’s charities have filed required IRS reports since 2007, and bank statements from many of the charities, obtained by the AG, show that Weingarten and his associates have constantly used accounts in charity names as their own personal bank accounts.
Since 2007, Weingarten and Weiss have used 35 different charity bank accounts to withdraw over $350,000 in checks written to “cash,” and have withdrawn a total of $42M.
Bank statements also reveal that charity bank accounts have been used to pay Weingarten’s home mortgages, car loans, and utilities, as well as remodeling a second home Weingarten purchased in 2009.
On May 14th, 2013, Weingarten was summoned to appear before the Office of the Attorney General’s Charities Bureau (“OAG”) to give sworn testimony in response to the charges against him.
Weingarten refused to answer a single question during the session, while invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination over 600 times.
Court documents also state that Weingarten has routinely engaged in the practice of intentionally confusing potential donors by choosing names for his fake charities that closely resemble more established entities to which he has no affiliation.
The suit cites examples of Weingarten entities bearing the names Hatzalah Rescue and Hatzalah Shomrom, which have that name in common with unrelated Hatzalah entities that operate EMS vehicles in New York and Israel.
Another one of Weingarten’s fake charities, Zaka Israel, bears a close resemblance to Israel-based Zaka entities that dedicate themselves to assisting terrorism victims and gathering the remains of victims killed by terrorist attacks in Israel and elsewhere.
The suit charges that Weingarten also used the name Magen Israel, which closely resembles Magen David, the Israeli equivalent of the Red Cross.
The suit states, “The Defendants employ the similar sounding names to confuse donors in believing that they are contributing to a well-established charity or cause.”
Over the duration of his scheme, Wiengraten has claimed that he has had the support of Rabbis, even posting YouTube clips, as photo-ops, showing him getting blessings from Israeli Rabbis without even mentioning his organizations.
The following is a full list of names and last known addresses of the Defendants listed in the suit:
1. Yaakov Weingarten, last known address 1124 East 23rd Street, Brooklyn, NY
2. Rivka Weingarten, last known address 1124 East 23rd Street, Brooklyn, NY
3. David Yifat, last known address 915 East 27th Street, Brooklyn, NY
4. Simon Weiss, last known address 5409 Almeda Avenue, Apt. 3C, Queens, NY
5. Hatzalah Rescue, 1493 Coney Island Avenue, Brooklyn, NY
6. Shearim, 5014 16th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY
7. Bnei Torah, 1493 Coney Island Avenue, Brooklyn, NY
8. Chesed L’Yisrael, 1493 Coney Island Avenue, Brooklyn, NY
9. Yad L’Shabbat, 1493 Coney Island Avenue, Brooklyn, NY
10. Hatzalah Shomrom, 5014 16th Avenue, Suite 355, Brooklyn, NY
11. Pulse, 1493 Coney Island Avenue, Brooklyn, NY
12. Agudath, 5014 16th Avenue, Suite 152, Brooklyn, NY
13. Reb Meir, 1493 Coney Island Avenue, Brooklyn, NY
14. Congregation Yad L’Shabbat, 1493 Coney Island Avenue, Brooklyn, NY
15. Shearim Hayad, 1493 Coney Island Avenue, Brooklyn, NY
16. Emergency Center, 1491 Coney Island Avenue, Brooklyn, NY
17 Magen Israel, 1493 Coney Island Avenue, Brooklyn, NY
18. Hayad, 1493 Coney Island Avenue, Brooklyn, NY
19. Lmaan Hatorah, 5014 16th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY
20. Our Children, 1493 Coney Island Avenue, Brooklyn, NY
21. Zaka Israel, 5014 16th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY
22. Yaldei Simcha Yisrael, 1493 Coney Island Avenue, Brooklyn, NY
23. Yad Israel, 1493 Coney Island Avenue, Brooklyn, NY