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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Escondido Man Admits to Tax Evasion Scheme with Former Chabad of Poway Rabbi

Assistant U. S. Attorneys Michelle L. Wasserman (619) 546-8431 and Oleksandra Johnson (619) 546-9769

NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – February 2, 2021

SAN DIEGO – Stuart Weinstock of Escondido pleaded guilty in federal court today to filing a false tax return as part of a years’ long tax-evasion scheme with former Chabad of Poway Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein. 

Until around 2018, Rabbi Goldstein was the director and head rabbi at Chabad of Poway, a tax-exempt religious organization.  For approximately eight years, Weinstock made supposed “donations” to Chabad of Poway, and Rabbi Goldstein funneled approximately 75 percent of those “donations” back to Weinstock in cash, allowing Weinstock to evade more than $100,000 in taxes. 

According to Weinstock’s plea agreement, between 2010 and 2018, Weinstock provided Rabbi Goldstein with at least approximately $872,815 in checks that fraudulently described the funds as “contributions,” “donations,” or “business expenses.”  Weinstock gave these “donations” to Rabbi Goldstein monthly.  Rabbi Goldstein then secretly returned 75 percent of the money, or approximately $654,611, to Weinstock.  To do so, Rabbi Goldstein met with Weinstock in person at Weinstock’s home or business to pick up the checks and give cash back – less the rabbi’s 25  percent cut – to Weinstock in an envelope.  Weinstock then falsely claimed on his tax returns that the full amount of his fraudulent donations were tax deductible donations or business expenses, thereby fraudulently reducing his taxes. Through this scheme, Weinstock avoided over $100,000 in taxes that he should have paid to the IRS. 

In his plea agreement, Weinstock also admitted that in October 2018, one of Rabbi Goldstein’s acquaintances contacted Weinstock to tell him that Rabbi Goldstein had been arrested and that Rabbi Goldstein wanted to warn Weinstock not to accept any more envelopes.  Weinstock understood this as a warning that the rabbi was cooperating with law enforcement and their future interactions could be recorded.

In July 2020, Rabbi Goldstein pleaded guilty to fraud charges, admitting that he participated in a complex, years-long, multi-million dollar tax-evasion scheme and other financial deceptions involving theft of public money.  Rabbi Goldstein’s plea agreement outlined the tax evasion scheme with Weinstock.

So far, 10 people have pleaded guilty to crimes discovered in this investigation, including Weinstock and two others who have agreed to deferred prosecution agreements.  Rabbi Goldstein has agreed to cooperate with the ongoing investigation. He is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Cynthia Bashant on April 26, 2021.

“This was a deceptive, carefully-planned scheme and the victims are honest taxpayers,” said U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer. “Those who cheat the system by exploiting the tax-exempt status of non-profits and religious organizations will be held to account for their illegal conduct.” Brewer praised prosecutors Michelle Wasserman and Oleksandra Johnson and FBI and IRS agents for their excellent work on this case.

“Mr. Weinstock admitted that he broke the law and cheated the United States out of over $100,000, and in so doing, he also cheated honest taxpayers who pay their fair share,” said Special Agent in Charge Ryan L. Korner. “Mr. Weinstock’s tax evasion scheme spanned eight years, exploiting charitable giving laws and abusing a tax-exempt religious organization. IRS Criminal Investigation will pursue all who defraud the U.S. Treasury and we are committed to working with our law enforcement partners to uphold the law and protect our Nation’s tax and financial systems.”

“This years-long fraud and tax evasion scheme brought to light by this investigation has resulted in ten guilty pleas, including defendant Stuart Weinstock and previously convicted Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein,” said Suzanne Turner, Special Agent in Charge of FBI's San Diego Field Office. “Dedicated FBI agents uncovered and worked diligently to piece together a complex financial scheme perpetrated by those who exploited a non-profit and religious organization to cheat a system designed to benefit those in need. As shown in this case, the FBI, working with our IRS and DOJ partners, will bring justice to those who commit fraud and cheat honest taxpayers.”

Stuart Weinstock is next scheduled to appear at a sentencing hearing on April 26, 2021 at 9 a.m. before Judge Bashant.

SUMMARY OF CHARGES                       Case Number 21CR0042-BAS

Stuart Weinstock                                          Age: 64           Escondido, CA

Filing False Tax Return, in violation of Title 26, U.S.C. §7206(1)

Maximum Penalty: Three years in prison

PREVIOUSLY CHARGED DEFENDANTS AND SUMMARY OF CHARGES                   

Yisroel Goldstein, Case Number 20CR1916-BAS             Age: 58           Poway

Conspiracy to Defraud the United States and Commit Wire Fraud, in violation of Title 18, USC 371

Maximum Penalty: Five years in prison

Alexander Avergoon, Case Number 19CR2955-BAS       Age: 44           San Diego                  

Wire Fraud, in violation of Title 18, USC 1343

Maximum Penalty: Twenty years in prison

Aggravated Identity Theft, in violation of Title 18, USC 1028A

Maximum Penalty: Two years minimum consecutive term in prison

Money Laundering, in violation of Title 18, USC 1956(a)(1)(B)(i)

Maximum Penalty: Twenty years in prison

Bruce Baker, Case Number 20CR1912-BAS                     Age: 74           La Jolla

Conspiracy to Defraud the United States and file false tax returns, in violation of Title 18, USC 371

Maximum Penalty: Five years in prison

Bijan Moossazadeh, Case Number 20CR1893-BAS         Age: 63           San Diego

Filing a False Tax Return, in violation of Title 26, USC 7206(1)

Maximum Penalty: Three years in prison

Yousef Shemirani, Case Number 20CR1895-BAS            Age: 74           Poway

Filing a False Tax Return, in violation of Title 26, USC 7206(1)

Maximum Penalty: Three years in prison

Boris Shkoller, Case Number 20CR1913-BAS                  Age: 83           Del Mar

Filing a False Tax Return, in violation of Title 26, USC 7206(1)

Maximum Penalty: Three years in prison

Mendel Goldstein, Case Number 20CR2772-BAS            Age: 63           Brooklyn, NY

Conspiracy to Defraud the United States and Commit Wire Fraud, in violation of Title 18, USC 371

Maximum Penalty: Five years in prison

Rotem Cooper, Case Number 20CR3968-BAS                 Age:    54        San Diego      

Deferred Prosecution Agreement

Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud, in violation of Title 18, USC 371

Igor Shtilkind, Case Number 20CR3955-BAS                  Age:    55        San Diego

Deferred Prosecution Agreement

Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud, in violation of Title 18, USC 371

INVESTIGATING AGENCIES

Internal Revenue Service

Federal Bureau of Investigation

 

Topic(s): 
Tax
Press Release Number: 
CAS21-0202-Weinstock
Updated February 2, 2021