Man headed to jail in NYC Torah fraud - Israel News, Ynetnews
 
ynetnews
web


   Israel News

Israel News
World News
Israel Opinion
Jewish
Israel Business
Israel Culture
Israel Travel
Torah Scam

'I have lifetime of atonement ahead of me' (archives) Photo: Government Press Office
'I have lifetime of atonement ahead of me' (archives) Photo: Government Press Office
 
 

Man headed to jail in NYC Torah fraud

Charity co-founder, who billed himself as 'Jewish Indiana Jones', sentenced to more than four years in prison for conning donors out of about $1 million

Associated Press
Published: 10.12.12, 17:08 / Israel News

A Jewish charity co-founder who billed himself as a "Jewish Indiana Jones" bent on rescuing vintage Torahs across the globe was sentenced to more than four years in prison on Thursday for conning donors out of about $1 million.

 

Menachem Youlus told a judge in federal court in Manhattan that he was ashamed of his scam, but still hoped for leniency.

 

Related stories:

 

"I will carry that shame and dishonor with me for the rest of my life. ... I know I have lifetime of atonement ahead of me," he said.

 

US District Judge Colleen McMahon gave Youlus 51 months behind bars - the maximum under sentencing guidelines. She imposed the term after hearing some the victims express anguish over discovering that their donations - given to help to save the sacred scrolls in Europe and Israel – instead went into his pocket.

 

"We're here because Mr. Youlus is a liar and because he lied in order to obtain money," the judge said.

 

Youlus – a 50-year-old father of nine children and owner of a book store in Wheaton, Maryland – had told donors he traveled the world to recover Torahs lost or hidden during the Holocaust, including at the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland and the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany.

 

At a 2004 Torah dedication, Youlus wrote: "I guess you could call me the Jewish Indiana Jones," a criminal complaint said, referencing the action-adventure hero played by Harrison Ford in the 1981 Stephen Spielberg classic "Raiders of the Lost Ark."

 

But prosecutors said Youlus rarely went abroad during the years he had claimed to go Torah hunting. They accused him of instead distributing Torahs he bought from US dealers to synagogues and congregations nationwide, sometimes at inflated rates.

 

Authorities also alleged Youlus put some of the donations into his personal accounts, spending the funds on private school tuition for his children and on personal expenses, including meals and health care.

 

Defense attorney Ben Brafman insisted Thursday that Youlus actually had "squirreled away" most of the funds. He also sought to assure victims they would get back all their money.

 

 

commentcomment   PrintPrint  Send to friendSend to friend   
Tag with Del.icio.us Bookmark to del.icio.us



 
3 Talkbacks for this article    See all talkbacks
Please wait for the talkbacks to load

 

RSS RSS | About | Contact Us | Privacy Policy | Terms of use | Advertise with us | Site Map

Site developed by  YIT Advanced Technology Solutions