Brooklyn Charity Ring Shut Down Amid Investigation

By Genevieve Belmaker, Epoch Times
June 30, 2013 6:49 pm Last Updated: June 30, 2013 6:49 pm

NEW YORK—The plug was pulled on June 28 on a fundraising operation in Brooklyn that used 19 separate charities to raise money for programs in Israel. State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said that his office got a temporary restraining order to shut down the operation run by Yaakov Weingarten and has filed against him.

Weingarten’s organization, which raised millions of dollars through a variety of organizations, told donors that the money was going to causes in Israel or toward conducting religious activities. Schneiderman’s office found through an investigation that the majority of the charities simply did not exist or existed in name only. The true recipients of much of the money were Weingarten and his family, and some of it was used to pay two home mortgages and fund a pricey redecoration undertaking by Weingarten’s wife.

According to the Attorney General, at least $350,000 in checks were made payable to Cash, and over $280,000 was used to pay the two mortgages. The alleged fraudulent activity took place between 2007 and 2013. The D.A. also said that money raised in the name of charity was used to pay for dentist visits, utility bills, personal vehicles, video rentals and a trip to the Borgata Casino in Atlantic City.

“These defendants brazenly abused the generosity of the public, and in particular the selfless donations that many Jews provided for charitable programs in Israel,” Attorney General Schneiderman stated in an announcement about the case. “Mr. Weingarten took these donations and spent them on himself and his family by converting the charities’ web of bank accounts into his own personal piggy bank.”

The lawsuit filed by the D.A. against Weingarten, 52, and one of his associates, Simon Weiss, 28, alleges that the men used “unusual banking practices” to conceal their activities. Over a period of several years, over 2,100 checks were bounced.