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Press Release

New Jersey Woman Sentenced To Prison For Defrauding Non-Profit

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Pennsylvania

PHILADELPHIA – Rochelle Biesenthal, 64, of Brigantine, New Jersey, was sentenced today to 12 months and a day in prison.  On May 28, 2014, Ms. Biesenthal pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and three counts of tax evasion.

As part of her wire fraud charge, Ms. Biesenthal engaged in a scheme to defraud the Jewish Heritage Programs (“JHP”).  JHP is a non-profit organization in Philadelphia that provides opportunities for Jewish college students (at the University of Pennsylvania, Temple University and other universities), as well as young professionals, and other persons to engage with their Jewish heritage and reaffirm their Jewish identity.  Ms. Biesenthal was carried out the scheme between 2002 and April 2009, while she was employed as a bookkeeper at JHP.  She fraudulently prepared and issued checks drawn on JHP’s bank accounts and rather than use them for the non-profit’s mission, she made those unauthorized checks payable to her.  

Ms. Biesenthal also fraudulently authorized electronic debits from JHP’s bank accounts to pay for her personal credit cards and her family’s personal credit cards.  As part of the scheme, she defrauded JHP of a total of well over $400,000.  In addition, she never reported her unauthorized income in her tax returns in tax years 2007 through 2009 and concealed the true sources of her income.

In addition to the prison term, Chief U.S. District Court Judge Petrese Tucker ordered Biesenthal to pay restitution in the amount of $171,187.04 to JHP and $61,637 to the Internal Revenue Service.  The Court also imposed three years of supervised release, and a $400 special assessment.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Sozi Pedro Tulante.

Suite 1250, 615 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106
PATTY HARTMAN, Media Contact, 215-861-8525

Updated December 15, 2014