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    United States Attorney's Office
    Central District of California

    Thom Mrozek
    Public Affairs Officer

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    Release No. 07-164

    December 19, 2007


    The Grand Rabbi of Spinka, a religious group within Orthodox Judaism, was arrested this morning along with several associates charged in an indictment that alleges a wide-ranging conspiracy to defraud U.S. government agencies, to operate a underground money transfer system and to launder money through an Israeli bank.

    Grand Rabbi Naftali Tzi Weisz, 59, and Gabbai Moshe E. Zigelman, 60, both of Brooklyn, New York, were indicted yesterday by a federal grand jury in Los Angeles. The 37-count indictment, which was unsealed this morning, alleges that Weisz and Zigelman solicited millions of dollars of contributions to several Spinka charitable organizations by promising to secretly refund up to 95 percent of the contributions. In this manner, the contributors could claim as tax deductions the full amounts of their contributions, while actually having contributed as little as 5 percent of the amount they would declare on their federal income tax returns.

    Weisz and Zigelman would surreptitiously refund up to 95 percent of the contributions through several methods, according to the indictment. In some cases, the contributors received cash payments through an underground money transfer network involving various parties, some of whom operated businesses in and around the Los Angeles jewelry district. Several participants in the underground money transfer network were also indicted yesterday and arrested this morning. They are: Yaacov Zeivald, 43, of Valley Village, California; Yosef Nachum Naiman, 55, of Los Angeles; and Alan Jay Friedman, 43, all of Los Angeles. Another man allegedly involved in the underground money transfer network, Moshe Arie Lazar, 60, of Los Angeles, was not arrested and is believed to be in Israel.

    A second method used to reimburse contributors was wire transfers from Spinka-controlled entities into accounts secretly held at a bank in Israel. The accounts were established with the assistance of an international accounts manager at the bank, Joseph Roth, 66, of Tel Aviv, and Tel Aviv attorney Jacob Ivan Kantor, 71, both of whom are charged in the indictment. Roth allegedly assisted contributors in the United States obtain loans from the Los Angeles branch of the Israeli bank, loans that were secured by the funds in the secret bank accounts in Israel, so the contributors could have the use of the funds in the United States. After their money was placed in the secret accounts at the Israeli bank, contributors also could hire Spinka to help secretly repatriate the money into the United States in exchange for an additional money laundering fee, the indictment alleges. Roth was arrested this morning in Los Angeles. Kantor has not been arrested and is believed to be in Israel.

    The indictment charges Weisz and Zigelman with one count of conspiracy to defraud the Internal Revenue Service and other crimes, 19 counts of mail fraud, one money laundering conspiracy count, 11 counts of international money laundering, and one count of operating an illegal money remitting business. Zigelman is also charged with two counts of aiding in the preparation of fraudulent income tax returns. Roth is charged in both conspiracy counts; several mail fraud counts; and several international money laundering counts. Kantor is charged in both of the conspiracy counts and several international money laundering counts. Zeivald, Lazar, Naiman, and Friedman are charged in the main conspiracy count and with operating an illegal money remitting business. Zeivald is also named in one mail fraud count. If convicted, all of the defendants face substantial federal prison sentences.

    In the money laundering conspiracy charge, five Spinka charitable organizations – Yeshiva Imrei Yosef, Yeshivath Spinka, Central Rabbinical Seminary, Machne Sva Rotzohn, and Mesivta Imrei Yosef Spinka, all based in Brooklyn – are named as defendants. These entities allegedly issued fraudulent receipts for bogus charitable contributions and were the beneficiaries of fees charged for transfers of funds as part of the money laundering conspiracy.

    An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

    Weisz, Zigelman, Roth, Zeivald, Naiman and Friedman were all arrested in the Los Angeles area this morning and are scheduled to make their initial appearances in United States District Court this afternoon.

    The case is part of an ongoing investigation being conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and IRS-Criminal Investigation.


    Release No. 07-164
    Return to the 2007 Press Release Index