EVERY SIGNATURE MATTERS - THIS BILL MUST PASS!

EVERY SIGNATURE MATTERS - THIS BILL MUST PASS!
CLICK - GOAL - 100,000 NEW SIGNATURES! 75,000 SIGNATURES HAVE ALREADY BEEN SUBMITTED TO GOVERNOR CUOMO!

CLICK!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

It's Not Just Individuals - It's The Community!

A telling post from Daas Hedyot sent in by Malach Hamovies!

It's Not Just Individuals - It's The Community!

Oftentimes in my life, when people discover that I used to be religious, they inquire as to why I chose to leave that lifestyle behind me. When I first encountered people asking me this, I would try to explain that the choice I made was a very personal one, based on what I concluded was right for me specifically, and that my decision wasn't intended to make a statement about the objective truth of Judaism in general. It's not that theological and ideological arguments didn't play a contributing part - they most definitely did, in that they significantly loosened the grip which my fundamentalist upbringing had held me in. And it's not that I was oblivious to all the scholarship (from science, history, biblical scholarship, and other fields) which challenged the veracity of Orthodox Judaism.

While I never did get too involved in those discussions, I was well aware of how powerfully they undermined many of the foundations of Orthodoxy. But more importantly, I knew myself, and I knew that what was really motivating me was the particular social and psychological needs which I was facing in my life. Orthodoxy was doing nothing for me (intellectually, spiritually, socially, emotionally, and in other ways) and even worse, I felt it was actively crippling me, by forcing me to subscribe to a lifestyle and value system which I didn't believe in at all.

So when someone would assume from my decision that it was an indictment of Orthodoxy as a whole, I would go out of my way to correct the mistaken impression. I would try to make it clear that while I was most definitely critical of aspects of that world, the community as a whole was not deserving of condemnation and that there were still many Orthodox people who I wholeheartedly respected (well, maybe "a few" is more accurate). But to presume that I was critical of Orthodoxy as a whole was an assumption that was not justified.

However, these days, when faced with this question of "Why am I not religious?" I find myself frequently questioning this approach I had previously settled upon. While it's obvious that the motivations for my choice couldn't have retroactively changed, the simple fact is that I am finding myself less and less able to look at the chareidi community that I came from and be able to describe it as anything other than a corrupt, dysfunctional, and totally unhealthy environment to be a part of.

The many recent indiscretions, dysfunctions, and outright misdeeds of individuals within the Orthodox community have been well documented in the media: Hundreds of sexual abuse cases being reported, including many by rabbis and principals (Kolko, Mondrowitz, Weingarten, Beis Yakov Principal, Satmar Principal in Williamsburg, West Bank Rabbi, Baltimore Rabbi), acid and bleach thrown at those not dressing modestly enough, beatings by modesty squads, attacking women who sit in the front of the bus, tax fraud by Hassidic Rebbes, infants killed by abusive fathers, indictments at glatt kosher slaughterhouses, eviction threats because of not being frum enough, etc., etc. I can keep on going, but I think the picture is clear. There's a lot of ugliness to be found within the chareidi community. A hell of a lot. This is way more than just a few isolated incidents.

However, despite the fact that these stories are appearing with ever increasing frequency, I don't think that these incidents are truly representative of the entire community. They are unfortunately more than just a few people, but I don't think that these sorts of extremely awful behaviors are actually widespread in the frum community. And I honestly don't think it's fair to tar the whole community with the transgressions of a small minority who make the rest of the community look bad.

The thing is though, that small minority of deviants aren't the reason that I think so negatively of the community as a whole. If it was only these incidents, I probably wouldn't be as critical as I am of the frum world. Rather, what fills me with such a repugnance is the behavior of the entire community itself, specifically in how it reacts to the many truly awful crimes happening in their midst.

For example, let's look at the child molestation issue: It's not just that there are child molesters in the community. Yes, that's awful, but as bad as it is, I'd concede that it's not more than a tiny percentage of the community, and I wouldn't judge the whole community based on just that. But what isn't a tiny percentage is the number of people who willfully and knowingly hamper efforts to bring these molesters to justice. What isn't a small number is the amount of people who would prefer to let these criminals remain free rather than risk sullying the reputation of their venerated institutions.

When a community as a whole allows such crimes to go unpunished and penalizes those who are trying to help innocent children, they can no longer hide behind the defense of "it's just a few lone individuals". At that point the community is also guilty. When the leadership (both rabbinic and lay) which the community looks up to is continuously silent on such a grave matter, it is a clear indication of where the community's priorities are.

When a community leader publicly admits that he has knowledge of hundreds of abuse cases, and yet his constituents prefer him to keep it all away from the police, the community has then become complicit in the crimes. When everyone cares more about what their neighbor is going to say about them, or their children's shidduch chances, or what yeshiva their kids will get into, or about being shunned by their friends (all commonly heard excuses for why no one wants to step up to the plate on any of these issues) - when they care more about all that than they do actually solving the problem, they're saying that they care more about maintaining the community's standards than doing what is right and just. That it's better to keep these things quiet.

This is why I can no longer look at the chareidi world with even a modicum of respect. The community as a whole has clearly expressed that they place the reputation of their society, and their place in that society, above the well being of their own children. How can anyone not be disgusted by such a society?

If the community truly cared, then it wouldn't ostracize people who try to bring the criminals to justice. If the community cared, a chassidish family wouldn't be afraid to tell the police who raped their 14 year old daughter. If the community cared it wouldn't stand behind and support a man convicted of killing his own baby (UTJ Knesset member Meir Porush called him a "good, quiet and disciplined" young man). If the community really cared, people wouldn't have to continuously be ashamed to report abuse to the police.

When last year, a chassidish man was found to be selling the Monsey community non-kosher chicken, the community showed how much they cared. The man and his family were run out of the community, in shame and in fear for his life. The community showed what they cared about then. And when the community allows accused child molesters to peaceably remain a part of their community, but those who try to help victims are harassed and attacked, they make it even clearer to the world what they care about. When a frum politician is able to back down on a promise to stop a molester from teaching kids, and no one demands that he keep his word, it shows where the community's concerns lie. When the rabbonim get more worked up about "illicit" music and "heretical" books than they do about yeshivas harboring molesters they reveal to us just what matters most to them.

This is why I have become so absolutely and utterly disgusted with the frum community as a whole. It is no longer just individuals committing these crimes. It is also the general public, and the leadership, which is responsible for allowing these horrible injustices to be perpetrated. It is the community and rabbis which turn a blind eye (or worse) towards these indiscretions. Their inaction, and relative silence (aside from a few vocal and brave activists), is a shocking admission of where their priorities truly lie. Their unwillingness to step up, and yes - risk condemnation and possible political fallout - is a clear indication of what the community values. If your community is going to condemn you for bringing a criminal to justice, isn't the community unambiguously saying that they prefer to protect criminals? Aren't they also then complicit in their crimes?

Admittedly, I know that there are many individuals in the community who are as horrified and sickened by all this as much as I am. Probably more so. But then why don't you speak up? I know the answer to that - because it's too costly for you. You will be shunned, ostracized, maybe even worse. I understand that. But how can you not be ashamed of yourself? With your silence, you are making a choice, a choice to be part of a society that prefers to let some of the very worst crimes of humanity - rape, violence, murder, abuse - go unpunished.

How can any self-respecting person - let alone one who considers themselves spiritual and religiously principled --- stand to be a part of this world?

140 comments:

Anonymous said...

the write misses the key flaw of orthodox judaism.

that flaw is very simple and specific:

orthodox judaism provides a false description of reality.

hebrew wasn't the first language...exodus never happened...talmud info is dead wrong on medicine and cosmology...in fact ortho judaism is so dead wrong about the world only a brainwashed person would buy into it. just like another cult know for its litigious nature.

The Hedyot said...

A link would've been nice, don't you think?

Anonymous said...

Mortgage Fraud
Tax Fraud
Mail Fraud
Wire Fraud
Bank Fraud
Money Laundering

All crimes Jews have been arrested for in the past few months. Where is the outrage in the frum community? Where are the so called "rabbis" banning such behaviors? Cutting off honor from these marauding bandits, and taking action against these hucksters who put fraud ahead of their faith would be a good first step.

Instead they yell Anti-Semitism, how the government is stepping on traditional Jewish values, pressure D.A.'s to drop cases, pay for tickets to foreign countries with loosy-goosy extridition treaties.

Now you see why there is an increasing number of Jewish indictments being made by Federal Law Enforcement agencies. The government wants criminals who do the crime to do the time. Since Jewish defendants won't be prosecuted due to collusion at local levels, the cases are passed on to be tried using federal statutes.

Many more arrests and indictments are being prepared to be served in the very near future.

"UOJ" - "The Un-Orthodox Jew" said...

http://daashedyot.blogspot.com/

Fact Checker said...

When last year, a chassidish man was found to be selling the Monsey community non-kosher chicken, the community showed how much they cared. The man and his family were run out of the community, in shame and in fear for his life.

1] It was 2006
2] He was a Yekkeh not a chassid
3] His father-in-law wanted his money back so he instigated a Postville riot, until he left.
4] His bitch wife is still raising Cain in Monsey.
5] His kids found shidduchim. His last son married the neice of the Agudah president in Chicago. He already has the feds on his tail for commiting a federal crime in Chicago over Succos, against hs brother.

Vaad HaKohol of KAJ said...

How has UOJ given our keheeeelloooo a pass for so long for harboring molesters. We guess our molester is connected so Rav Gelley and Montal want to avoid the topic.

Anonymous said...

This article is a sad one, because the author wishes to throw out the baby with the bathwater, and condemn a whole community for the actions of some powerful figures within that community.

Let's leave aside the author's misunderstanding of orthodox Judaism's veracity, etc. Obviously, he is not interested in a dialogue in that regard.

However, he then goes on to castigate a whole community, based on the admittedly reprehensible actions of some of those who control the levers of power.

The mainstream haredi news media including newspapers and at least one website are controlled by the powerbrokers, as are major Jewish organizations. They're all in this, together. The author would have us believe that the community is at fault, but look at the hundreds if not thousands of voices of outrage being posted on various websites when cases of abuse occur.

It will take some more time until sheker is destroyed and our children are better protected. It will take courage. But let's not destroy the whole community over the abhorrent actions of a minority of people, who have powerful roles and who exert so much control over the lives of hundreds of thousands of struggling individuals.

Such posts will only move people of good will away from the goals we all share. We need to continue the struggle, not jump ship, and not condemn a whole community.

Now is not the time for snide remarks and sarcasm. Now is the time for action-guerilla warfare of a sort--to retake our community from the thieves and pedophiles.

"UOJ" - "The Un-Orthodox Jew" said...

The facts suggest that this feeling of abandonment of any and every appropriate priority and value by the Jewish community, is causing thousands of people to leave Orthodox Judaism, publicly and privately.

I receive 1-30 such e-mails daily, in one form or another, by males and females, aged 14-?.

I've quoted Jonathan Sarna -- a noted Jewish historian, where he claims some 45% of people born into Orthodox homes have adapted a secular lifestyle over the last 40 years.

If not for the BT movements, we are not replacing ourselves. And don't be fooled by the Charedi/Hassidic birthrate, those numbers do not suggest how many of them remain Orthodox.

Yes -- the community is at fault for permitting this to happen. We get the leaders we deserve!

Anonymous said...

Let's try and stay away from the BT movement..this is a totally different disease.
The BT movement will ultimatly be the downfall of yiddishkiet.
OH MY..I'VE SEEN THE LIGHT. I'll stop eating in McDonalds. I'll go to shul (and park somewhere close).
Why do I ned to learn to read Hebrew I can daven in English. I won't throw out my king size bed. I'm a BT..I DON'T have to know anything. (This is the banner of most BT's). You mean I have to (fill in the blank).
LET'S STOP THE KIRUV RECHOKIM AND SPEND MORE TIME BEING M'KAREV OUR OWN.

THE PAYOFF WILL BE ALOT BIGGER.

Anonymous said...

Daas Hedyot:

The number one reason our community is losing the battle day by day against those instigating tyranny is because of the media.

Not NYT, WSJ, CNN, or blogs. It is our very own "Daas Torah" papers. The whitewashing of all issues of any importance by the media giant Yated Ne'eman, he 90% sidestepped the Finkel meat scandal. The Jewish Observer rag magazine of Agudah writes incoherently about every topic, they too wrote one page saying they'll address the kosher issue at a later date, it's been two and a half years with no comment until Rubashkin.

Goebbels and Hitler are kvelling how well the "frum" Jewish media owners learnt from them so well how to control the minds of the masses. They have numbed the minds of their leaders to believe that they are on the pulse of the frum world, and everything important is written, so since they don't discuss kosher or molestation, or Jewish organized crime it doesn't exist, so the rabbis sat and did nothing.

The feds will uncover everything, expose everything, and create a new Jewish wing to more Federal prisons.

Maybe Avi Shafran, Pinny, and their ilk can write how Obama is creating concentration camps etc. etc. Whitewash the root cause of the issue, CRIME and focus on their silly agendas.

Boruch said...

Interestingly that anonymous 9:41 calls the Baalei Teshuvah movement a disease and not a Madoff-like ponzi scheme. As one of the lepers let me tell you that it is a personal choice to fool yourself. No one can influence you to become observant if you don't want to become observant. Kiruv should not be left to those with a fiscal bent and self serving interests. That is why you get the half-hearted and vacuous responses you seem to have heard.
It is to our great detriment that we abandon those who are seeking to be closer to their forefathers by replacing those forefathers with impotent and incongruent frauds. As with Madoff, you should have looked to see where the money was coming from and your accountant should have looked as well. If it's too good to be true... Yiddishkeit is not too good to be true. It takes effort. We have replaced effort with the Reader's Digest of Judaism. We have forfeited hard work by digesting Judaism. It's a relative problem. Your observant relatives feel your pain and want to ease your entry and continuing path to deveykus. Bovine scatology. I was taught that you break your head on a Gemara. You knash your teeth on a Rashi. You toil to learn. To quote "without struggle there is no progress" - and that came from one of America's top black inventors in the 1800's - G-d bless his memory.
Once the organization cashes the check and has you on the mailing list you are part of the scheme. You'll get a newsletter, a dinner, an invitation for Shabbos - but you have to break your head to come close to Hashem. Isn't that the way you did it? Answer these ignoramuses and challenge their ingnorance, they are BT's (unless that means big tuchas). Be part of the solution, not the problem. Challenge the stupidity and while you're at it, challenge the frauds that perpetuate the stupidity and give them a reality check.

"UOJ" - "The Un-Orthodox Jew" said...

I do not know the numbers at Chabad; as to the rest of them --- less than 1% of the people that pass through their BT - Madoff-style banks, make it past 2 years.

Hundreds of millions of dollars, if not billions, have gone into the pockets of Noah Weinberg and the rest of them - and we have more confused people that have gone emotionally and financially broke because of that movement!

Anti-kiruv? said...

Am I to take it that the oylam is less than inspired by Project Inspire? But what about Yissochor Frand and Reb Shmuel Kaminetsky and Reb Noach Weinberg? Don't their honesty and integrity and true ahavas yisroel and compassion for Jewish children count for anything anymore?

Anonymous said...

Reb Yaakov Kamenetsky is turning over in his kever seeing the generation he sired. "Reb" Shmuel is a clown of the first order..that's why he is on the Moetzes..(whatever this means). His brother Binyamin is a thief, and a charlatan of the highest order and his son Mordechai is taking after him.

Reb Noach Weinberg has and is perpertrating the BIGGEST fraud ever perpertrated on the Jewish People, while banking MILLIONS of dollars.

IT IS HIS organization that has sent out RABBIS who cant read read ivrah, and have NO CLUE WHAT HALACHAH IS. STUDENTS who think the highest level of kashrus is TOIVELING paper napkins and plastic forks while forgetting to teach his students that you can't sleep in the SAME bed as your wife when she's a Niddah.

Yasher Koach to Reb Notta Schiller of OHR SAMAYACH for breaking away from this comedian when he did.

Boys of Chicago said...

People don't want propaganda videos, spreading the warmth of Judaism, baiting them to an Orthodox lifestyle, and then BOOM switch on them.

Why are Jews so mean and insensitive, pursuers of innocent, protecters of the guilty, perverters of justice, and promoters of every immoral, unethical behavior known to man. All under the strictest supervision of the "rabbis" and their misguided "Daas Torah".

We don't need to watch videos to inspire Jews to smile at other people to trick them that Judaism is a religion of love. We know it's a farce. We know rabbis and their supporters pursue innocent victims, and even when proven wrong will never, ever, not until after they breath their final breathe apologize.

We saw how the rabbinic establishment treated our rabbi. He has undergone so much suffering in his life, yet stays true to authentic Torah, not Daas Torah baloney. He is one of the living kedoshim and our inspiration.

So sorry Rabbi Weinberg we don't need a video for prepackaged inspiration, nor do we need martyrs to see the definition of kedoshim. We live with one in our city, and he's our walking inspiration.

Boruch said...

Anti-Kiruv, I have to ask if you are being sarcastic? Sadly pandering is not honest or a sign of integrity. Selling the Emperor new clothes that haven't a stitch of thread is not a sign of honest or integrity. A good speaker is not necessarily speaking honestly. I couldn't tell you how many people find Rav Frand entertaining, but they are out there. It's as though they were listening to the Marvelous Middos Machine, clapping along to the beat and memorizing the words and missing the point. I really find that those who have honesty and integrity don't look for audiences. They don't look for a wide field of influence. I don't know what it is, but I have the gut feeling that aneivas is about secrecy and anonymity. If you look at this Sunday's posting, the writer indicts the community for their inaction. The writer sits in wonderment how the community can delegate it's responsibility for the sake of an aliyah or for a place on a dais or for the warm smile of the Rosh. It's still discomfiting to see those who are Gedolei B'Yisroel shake the hands of thieves (not alleged but real convicted) because they owe a family for keeping them in business. We have created a retail operation called Yeshivos (akin to Circuit City) and bankrolled entrepreneurs whose sole business is to stay in business and present an acceptable product to those who will continue to invest in the business. Have you ever asked why donors are cataloged and classified come Yomim Noraim? I did. It's hakoros hatov (lower case on purpose) for the checks. If you and I were to pledge 10 million dollars to any institution tomorrow and then be arrested for fraud and have the government seize assets, we would be given Maftir Yonah on the basis that the assets would be unfrozen and the pledge redeemed. No matter that this pipe dream may never be a reality. Who would want to suffer or deliver an embarrassing blow and call a crook a crook or a fool a fool. The Emperor is naked. The Emperor is naked. Why wouldn't those who see that be disgusted? I'll take Hashem over these self-made puppets whose strings are pulled by $$$. I'll look to Hashem for his help. He'll guide me. I don't want Reb Shmuel or Reb Noach or Reb Aryeh. I've got Rebbe Akiva, Rebbe Tarfon, the GRA, the Beis Yisroel, the HaFlaah, the Ziskinds, the Meltzers, the Reb Michoel the Reb Dovid. What I got is gold. I look at the community and see the blight of phonies. I can see the half-hearted. I've also questioned. Then I look to Hashem and even if the answer isn't to my liking - which it can be - I still have an answer --- Hashem.

Anonymous said...

The article makes many of the same arguments that the thinking world makes about radical Islam. Those terrorists have the explicit approval of their leaders and the masses of "moderate" Muslims remain silent, effectively giving their tacit approval. Are they all guilty? Well, yes, because those terrorists are acting in the name of their religion, and the assumed majority of "moderates" are allowing them to speak on their behalf.

In the case of the Orthodox world, the analogy does not stick. Those perpetrating crimes such as fraud, theft, child molestation etc are not doing it in the name of religion. They are doing it for their own greedy and evil benefit. They don't claim to be acting on behalf of any particular community. The one thing they have in common is that they all hide behind their religious masks in order to commit their crimes and in order to get away with them.

I agree that the the so-called leaders of our generation are being derelict in not dealing with these situations, and are in fact enabling and abetting these criminals. I recently had the opportunity to encounter an individual in Eretz Yisrael who has been around the Orthodox world and is someone who has had a great deal of contact with Gedolim of this generation and past generations. The discussion turned to the idea of gedolim and he shook his head. He said that in our generation, we don't have any gedolim, just some big poskim. There is a great difference.

Past generations had gedolim who cared for the Jewish people and understood the suffering of the individual Jew. Their decisions were colored by this kinship and deep feeling. They knew when strict halacha needed to be balanced against the welfare of a Jewish soul. Someone who is a BIG POSEK knows how to learn, but sitting in your own daled amos for 20 hours a day will not expose you to the anguish of a child or mother or father.

I think they are always weighing the case at hand against what this will do to kavod hatorah. And in too many cases, kavod hatorah trumps kavod habrios and pikuach nefesh. So the BIG PSAK completely misses the forest for the trees. That's why banning a music concert is easy, because they see in such an action a strengthening of kavod hatorah, though us stupid masses wind up with a diminished feeling about our BIG POSKIM. If they would take out just one of these monsters and make an example of him for all to see, the honor of torah could begin to be restored.

Until such time, we will continue to go to shul among the closet adulterers, whore-mongers fraudtsters and thieves, the growing number of "ours" who have gone years through the yeshiva system but have not an ounce of yiras shomayim. We will continue to honor these scoundrels at dinners and tributes until they are caught by the feds or in a police sweep and our holy institutions wind up looking just as sleazy as they are.

So the writer is correct. Since our Ra-bonim are dropping the ball in the name of our religion, we are no better than the Muslim.

Hashem yeracheim.

Arthur said...

From an unnamed forum:


Subject: Re: Chabad seeks to transform tragedy into
opportunity

On Thu, 12/11/08, Prof. wrote:

>From
http://jta.org/news/article/2008/12/09/1001353/chabad-seeks-to-transform-tragedy-into-opportunity



"Chabad seeks to transform tragedy into opportunity"
NEW YORK (JTA) -- Chabad-Lubavitch leaders are working overtime to transform the Mumbai attacks into an unparalleled opportunity for spreading the movement's message.
================================

Does this strike anyone as being in bad taste? It seems to me that using any tragedy to further organizational goals - no matter how worthy - is not something one should capitilize on.
HM
>>>>>

I will tell you what is in bad taste. What is in bad taste is the JTA's disgusting headline.

Chabad has the right to react to the pogrom of Mumbai by going back in bigger and better. That response is idealistic and noble.

There are other things going on in certain Chabad circles that are very disturbing and I have discussed them recently backstage but you cannot fault Chabad for rebuilding what was destroyed and for trying to make something good
come out of this horrendous crime and heart-rending tragedy. You have to acknowledge the good where you see good.

You also have to realize that the JTA doesn't have the same issues with Chabad, issues of emunah and theology, that many Torah Jews have. The JTA dislikes them for what they have in common with the rest of the frum world, not for
their differences. Do you think it bothers the JTA that Chabad hangs up pictures of the Rebbe around the world? Not a bit. It bothers them that Chabad teaches Jews to keep Shabbos and keep kosher, and weans them away from the Church of Secularism where the JTA types worship.

When the Arabs attack Israel, it is because they hate all of us, all the Jews. And when secular Jews attack Chabad, it is because they hate all of us, all the frum Jews. If you have issues with the Medinah, you don't embrace
Arafat -- unless you think those six crazy NK guys are doing the right thing.
And if you have issues with Chabad, you don't embrace the enemies of Torah.

Anonymous said...

I am orthodox and I see all the negativity going on around me. Guess what- I am still orthodox because thats what I want to be. I stick to my beliefs, I daven to Hashem, I talk to hashem; I try to be the best that I can be- It's internal - It does not affect my view of myself when I see Rabbis etc.. doing whatever they are doing- I am still ME.

"UOJ" - "The Un-Orthodox Jew" said...

Did Yisocher Frand get in front of an audience and say that he'll move off Yeshiva Lane and quit his job at Ner Israel if Moshe Eisemann remains?

Did Shmuel Kaminetzky say -- I must resign from the Moetzes and hide my face in shame for knowing about Kolko for atleast 20 years, and sent Eisemann to Baltimore knowing he's a child-molester?

Did Noah Weinberg lock his nephew, Matis Weinberg out of Aish Hatorah in Jerusalem?

Please!!! These are criminals who have no shame!

Anonymous said...

>We don't need to watch videos to inspire Jews to smile at other people to trick them that Judaism is a religion of love. We know it's a farce. We know rabbis and their supporters pursue innocent victims, and even when proven wrong will never, ever, not until after they breath their final breathe apologize.<

Anyone here familiar with 'Rabbi' Eisenmann of Passaic?

Anonymous said...

As a resident of Ramat Bet Shemesh (an up and coming "jewel" of Charedi Judaism) I am nausiated by our local Rabbinic leadership.

A known child molester (Akiva Kagan) was allowed to school hop with the knowledge and blessing of such charlatans as Elimelech Kornfeld, Chaim Malinowitz and S.Z Eidensohn.

The only Rav courageous enough to speak out is Rav Chaim Solevechik (son of Rav Aharon, Z''L) and he received a slew of criticism.

Kornfeld should be ashamed for this and the fact that he dragged Rav Aharon Leib Shteinman out here to preach fire and brimstone against those who might vote for the TOV party or the non Charedi mayoral candidate.

What a massive Chilul HaShem we must witness here in RBS.

Agudah Fresser said...

http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2008/12/14/2008-12-14_governor_paterson_proposes_obesity_tax_a-1.html

A can of Coke could soon cost New Yorkers more than just calories.

Gov. Paterson, as part of a $121 billion budget to be unveiled Tuesday, will propose an "obesity tax" of about 15% on nondiet drinks.

This means a Diet Coke might sell for a $1 - even as the same size bottle of its calorie-rich alter ego would go for $1.15.

The Paterson administration also announced steps yesterday to expand the state's social services net, including a 30% increase in welfare payments over three years starting January 2010, increased money for food banks and expanded access to the state's Family Health Plus program.

Paterson also hopes to make it easier for people to enroll in Medicaid by eliminating face-to-face interviews and fingerprinting requirements.

Margo's favorite politician said...

http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2008/12/14/2008-12-14_family_pals_turn_out_for_luncheon_for_di.html

Jail-bound Rep. Vito Fossella thanked almost every family member, politician and citizen who supported him Sunday at a lovefest luncheon on Staten Island - except his wife.

Fossella, who didn't run for reelection after a drunken-driving bust exposed his secret affair and love child, received reciprocal gratitude from nearly 1,000 die-hard supporters, including Mayor Bloomberg.

"We need you, Vito," a woman yelled at one point.

"Vito has been there for his fellow New Yorkers, plain and simple," Bloomberg said as guests downed fruit cups, muffins and frittatas. "He has also, and one of the reasons when I was invited to come I said instantly that I would be honored, he has been there for me."

Fossella, who was not wearing his wedding ring, was sentenced to five days in jail last week. He is appealing his sentence. His long-suffering wife, Mary Pat Fossella, was nowhere to be seen.

Fossella singled out his mom, dad, uncles and sisters by name, but Mary Pat's never came up at what was otherwise a family-run lunch inside the Hilton Garden Inn in Bloomfield.

The soon-to-be ex-congressman paid for the event, and a sister checked guests in.

The disgraced congressman, once a rising Republican star, denied any immediate plans to seek reelection.

"I have no plans to run, no plans whatsoever," said Fossella, 43. "I've been blessed to represent Staten Island and Brooklyn for so many years."

Several local elected officials - and a crowd that gave Fossella repeated standing ovations, chanting "Vito! Vito! Vito!" - called on him to return to elected office.

City Councilman James Oddo (R-S.I.) compared Fossella's plight with that of Jesus Christ, Benjamin Franklin and Rocky Balboa.

"When the story of Vito Fossella is written," he said, "it will be a story of redemption."

Rep. Pete King (R-L.I.) said he looked forward to the day Fossella returns to public service.

"I would just compare Vito with some of his critics who are throwing stones," he said. "They couldn't hold a candle to Vito."

Menachem "Melly" Lifshitz said...

http://www.nypost.com/seven/11212008/news/regionalnews/top_atty_a_4m_cheat_140017.htm

A high-powered Manhattan securities lawyer who has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Democratic campaigns and Jewish charities admitted yesterday to being a multimillion-dollar tax cheat.

Menachem "Melly" Lifshitz paid back $4.75 million in taxes, penalties and interest.

His cheating came to light during a broader investigation into the use of charitable groups for alleged tax fraud.

Officials did not say if Lifshitz's Nassau County organization, the Melly & Rochelle Lifshitz Charitable Trust, is involved in that probe. The trust has donated more than a quarter-million dollars, mostly to Orthodox Jewish groups.

Lifshitz, of Lawrence, LI, and his wife have donated bundles to Hillary Rodham Clinton, Rudy Giuliani, Chuck Schumer and others.

They have also given tens of thousands to the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee and the Democratic National Committee.

Lifshitz is a partner at Berstein Liebhard & Lifshitz, a highly regarded securities class-action law firm, but has promised to resign from the state bar as a condition of staying out of jail.

His lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, stressed that the firm was not involved in the cheating.

YNET said...

Israel - An article published this weekend in a leaflet distributed by anti-Zionist ultra-Orthodox stream Neturei Karta asserted that the terror attack on the Chabad House in Mumbai was a punishment from God for the organization's collaboration with Zionist Israelis.

Six Jews were killed in the attack three weeks ago, including the two Chabad emissaries to the Indian city.

According to the article, Chabad was rightfully punished for its relations with "the filthy, deplorable traitors – the cursed Zionists that are your friends."

The writer went on to slam the Hasidic group for inviting to the emissaries' funeral "villainous heads of state who uttered words of heresy and blasphemy."

Chabad itself was imbued with "false national sentiment," the article said, and the organization's centers around the globe hosted religious Jews alongside secular ones without making any distinction "between good and evil, right and wrong, pure and impure, a Jew and a convert, a believer and a heretic."

The conclusion, according to the writer, was that "the road you (Chabad) have taken is the road of death and it leads to doom, assimilation and the uprooting of the Torah."

Mel Lifshitz, Ezra Birnbaum & Eli Levitan said...

http://www.thestreet.com/print/story/10266218.html

For Mel Lifshitz, Trust Is a Two-Way Street

For high-powered securities lawyer Mel Lifshitz, giving takes many forms, some more noble than others.

Since 2003, a charitable trust funded and administered by Lifshitz's family has donated money to various causes, most of them orthodox Jewish organizations. Another recipient of the charity's money, however, has been a limited partnership that was a plaintiff in more than a dozen class-action lawsuits filed by Lifshitz's firm over the past four years, a review of documents shows.

TheStreet.com found that the Melly & Rochelle Lifshitz Charitable Trust has invested at least $227,655 in the Delaware limited partnership, Colbart Birnet. In addition, a charitable trust set up by Lifshitz's law firm, Bernstein Liebhard & Lifshitz, one of the nation's top securities class-action firms, has invested at least $225,000 in the same partnership.

Moreover, in five filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Lifshitz is listed as a "beneficial owner" of the Colbart Birnet partnership -- a circumstance Lifshitz says is plain wrong and attributes to "human error." Clouding the picture further are two alternate spellings for Colbart Birnet that appear in court filings and a federal tax return for the law firm charity. Lifshitz says there's nothing to the discrepancies and ascribes them to "typographical" mistakes.

Financial connections between lawyers and clients in class-action litigation are frowned upon and can violate a federal law designed to preserve the autonomy of plaintiffs in such suits, legal experts say. According to the theory, a lawyer should not be beholden to any single plaintiff, especially the lead plaintiff, when he is negotiating on behalf of a larger group.

"The potential is the conflict between a lawyer's obligation to the class and his personal interest,'' says Milton C. Regan Jr., a professor of legal ethics at Georgetown University School of Law. "The potentially aggrieved parties would be the [other] members of the class.''

Lifshitz, in an email exchange, says he has no financial interest in the Colbart partnership, and does not benefit from the trust that invested in it. He does acknowledge that he is a trustee of the two charities.

"This sounds potentially troublesome,'' says Michael Perino, a professor at St. John's University Law School and an expert on securities class actions. "It strikes one as an odd form of charity. Is this a disguised way of kicking some money back to this entity to get it to serve as lead plaintiff?''

Regan, the Georgetown professor, says one way for a lawyer to eliminate possible conflicts is to disclose his financial ties to a client to the court and let the judge resolve the matter. It's not clear that Bernstein Liebhard has done this as a matter of course in the lawsuits in which Colbart Birnet appears as a plaintiff.

Last year, five regulatory filings made in connection with the registration and sale of stock by Optionable, a small New York firm that provides services to brokerages, listed Lifshitz as one of Colbart Birnet's "beneficial owners.'' The other listed owners are Ezra Birnbaum and Eli Levitan, a New York lawyer.

Birnbaum is president of Pond Equities, a New York brokerage firm that has been a longtime client of Bernstein Liebhard. Over the years, Pond Equities has appeared as a plaintiff, sometimes in a lead plaintiff role, in 32 securities class actions filed by Bernstein Liebhard in federal court.

Some regulatory filings describe Colbart Birnet as an "affiliate'' of Pond Equities. An investment advisory form filed by Pond with the SEC describes Birnbaum as the general partner of Colbart Birnet II. The form says about 1% of Pond customers are investors in Colbart Birnet, and a minimum investment costs $100,000. The form also says Colbart Birnet has $1.83 million in assets.

Birnbaum, who lives near Lifshitz in Lawrence, N.Y., on Long Island, did not return several telephone calls. Levitan could not be reached for comment.

Boro Park Pond Equities Scam - Birnbaum, Spinner, Shaye Hirsch, Motty Drillman said...

http://www.sec.gov/litigation/litreleases/2006/lr19639.htm

SEC Charges Four Securities Industry Professionals and a Brokerage Firm With Fraud for Engaging in Manipulative Short Selling

On April 4, 2006, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed a civil action in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York charging Andreas Badian, Jacob Spinner, Mottes Drillman, Jeffrey "Danny" Graham and Pond Securities Corp. (doing business as "Pond Equities") with fraud and other securities violations in connection with manipulative short selling of the stock of Sedona Corporation. In addition, the Commission charged Pond and two of its principals, Ezra Birnbaum and Shaye Hirsch, with failure to supervise Spinner and Drillman.

Der gass dot com said...

http://www.thestreet.com/print/story/10277405.html

In the latest SEC action, regulators allege that two former Refco brokers, Mottes "Matt" Drillman and Jacob Spinner, carried out the manipulative trading through accounts they had at both Refco and Pond. In fact, the SEC alleges that both Drillman and Spinner were working for Refco and Pond at the same time, a highly unusual situation.

Drillman and Spinner, who left Refco two years before its collapse, still work for Pond. Pond didn't comment.

Earlier this year, TheStreet.com reported that regulators were investigating Drillman and Spinner for alleged manipulative trading on behalf of Amro International. TheStreet.com also identified Drillman and Spinner as the two brokers who handled some of the trading for a group of hedge funds once affiliated with Austria's Bank fur Arbeit und Wirtschaft.

Eli Levitan said...

Does he still work for Zev Wolfson? Cammeby's is Ruby Schron's company.

http://www.suite101.com/discussion.cfm/middle_east_politics/79342/907143

Three years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Leonard Litwin's Glenwood Management is preparing to build a 56-story jumbo rental that will stand directly between the 793-foot-tall Woolworth Building and the 1,776-foot-tall Freedom Tower.

The residential building at 10 Barclay Street will rise next to and west of the Transportation Building at 225 Broadway, a 44-story building favored by law offices, and around the landmarked St. Peter's Church, the oldest Catholic Church in the city.

The Witkoff Group and Cammeby's International also are working with Kondylis to create apartments on the top floors of the Woolworth Building - another plan that was sidetracked after 9/11.

They have applied for $80 million in Liberty Bonds from the city's allocation, and they plan to create 145 rental units.

Owner Zev Wolfson's Wolfson Group has indicated a need for $50 million in Liberty Bonds for 50 units.

The residential plans are "far from completed," said Eli Levitan, vice president of the company. Sources told The Post that the owners also have feelers out in the office market and would likely be open to signing a lease with a large tenant.

R' Binyomin Kaminetzky said...

http://www.5tjt.com/pdfs/20070824_Issue.pdf

I'm R' Shmuel's brother.

Melly Lifshitz moved from Lawrence to a huge mansion in Hewlett Bay Park where he hosts fresser events for my South Shore yeshiva with Lipa Schmeltzer singing.

NY Law Journal said...

http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1202426230212&rss=newswire

Daniel Wise
New York Law Journal
November 24, 2008

Menachem E. Lifshitz, a former name partner at Bernstein, Liebhard & Lifshitz, pleaded guilty to a felony charge of falsifying his 2005 income tax return and paid $4.8 million in back taxes and interest Thursday.

In exchange for the guilty plea and payment, Lifshitz will not receive any jail time but has agreed to resign from the bar.

He pleaded guilty to filing a false tax return, a Class E felony carrying a maximum term of 1 1/3 to 4 years.

His arrest resulted from an ongoing probe into the use of charitable organizations for tax fraud, according to the Manhattan district attorney's office. Prosecutors said Lifshitz had overstated his expenses and contributions.

Manhattan DA Robert Morgenthau said...

Lifshitz used to live in Back Lawrence behind the Woodmere Country Club.

http://manhattanda.org/whatsnew/press/2008-11-20b.shtml

Defendant Information:
MENACHEM E. LIFSHITZ,
22 Auerbach Lane
Lawrence, New York

Marc Dreier-kop said...

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/14/nyregion/14lawyer.html?em=&pagewanted=print

December 14, 2008

Lawyer Seen as Bold Enough to Cheat the Best

By ALISON LEIGH COWAN, CHARLES V. BAGLI and WILLIAM K. RASHBAUM

Marc S. Dreier knew the 45th-floor conference room of Solow Realty well. He had been in it many times as a trusted lawyer for the company’s founder.

So nothing seemed amiss when he showed up one afternoon in October and told a receptionist he had a meeting with her boss, people associated with Solow say.

Mr. Dreier was elegantly dressed, as always, the people said. He had three people with him. The receptionist ushered the group past her desk. They were sitting there, visible inside the glass-walled room, a few minutes later when the boss, Steven M. Cherniak, happened to walk by.

Mr. Cherniak would later tell people at the company how surprised he had been to see Mr. Dreier. He had not scheduled any meeting with him, and he had no idea what Mr. Dreier was up to.

But people there gave little thought to Mr. Dreier’s odd visit until November, when the company’s founder, Sheldon H. Solow, received a disturbing call. The caller wanted to let Mr. Solow know that Mr. Dreier had offered him the chance to buy promissory notes that had been issued by the company, people associated with the firm said.

They were fake notes, and shortly thereafter, lawyers for Solow Realty — different lawyers — were in touch with federal authorities, reporting their suspicions that Mr. Dreier might be engaged in financial fraud.

Since that opening tip, federal authorities have been tracking what they describe as a brazen swindle of some of New York’s savviest investors by one of New York’s more accomplished lawyers. Mr. Dreier has been charged with multiple frauds in the United States and a related crime in Canada, and is being held without bail in Manhattan.

In court last week, prosecutors said their count so far put the money missing at $380 million, most of it lost by hedge funds and other investors who had bought promissory notes that were flat-out fictions.

In recent days, Dreier L.L.P., the Park Avenue law firm that Mr. Dreier founded, has been plunged into chaos. At least $35 million in escrow that was to have been held by the firm seems to be missing, the authorities say, and nearly all of its 250 lawyers are now looking for work.

The amounts pale next to the $50 billion fraud that another high-profile New York figure, Bernard L. Madoff, was accused last week of orchestrating, but they have unnerved lawyers and their clients in the broader legal community.

As the Dreier firm’s lawyers rummage through the law firm’s books, which had been until recently Mr. Dreier’s exclusive preserve, they are finding that bills have not been paid in months. Their health insurance is in default and the firm will not be able to make its $2.6 million payroll on Monday, lawyers there say.

“No one is in charge,” Vincent F. Pitta, a lawyer at the firm, complained last week in an affidavit in support of a government request to freeze assets. “The news of Mr. Dreier’s arrest has had a neutron-bomb-like effect on Dreier L.L.P.”

Few have fallen as quickly as Mr. Dreier, a Yale graduate and Harvard-educated lawyer who had been a partner at some of New York’s better known firms before opening up a high-profile practice of his own in 1996 that now has offices in five cities.

“He promised lavish salaries and lavish compensation and he was attracting the best and the brightest,” said Gerald L. Shargel, Mr. Dreier’s lawyer. Mr. Shargel said Mr. Dreier is cooperating with the receiver now running the firm.

The expense of running such an operation does not provide a ready explanation for thefts of such magnitude. Even the cost of sustaining Mr. Dreier’s appetite for luxury does not provide an easy answer for what instilled the desperation that seems to have prompted schemes involved here, schemes that prosecutors said involved Mr. Dreier pretending to be other people.

Mr. Dreier’s lifestyle includes a waterfront home in the Hamptons, a Manhattan triplex and a place on Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica, Calif. He kept a Mercedes 500 in New York, an Aston Martin in California, and a 121-foot blue and white Heesen motor yacht with a Jacuzzi and a crew of 10 docked in Manhattan or St. Maarten. Associates said the boat, the Seascape, was the site of late-night parties at which Mr. Dreier, who is divorced, was often joined by an attractive young crowd.

The law offices themselves at 499 Park Avenue were like modern art galleries. In court papers filed this week, the comptroller for the law firm reported that $30 million to $40 million of the firm’s assets had been spent on art. Among Mr. Dreier’s holdings were works by Picasso and a Warhol depiction of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

In recent days, someone not affiliated with the firm removed several pieces of artwork from the walls and carted them away, a person at the firm said. It was not clear what became of the art.

Today, lawyers at the firm cannot remove even client papers without the permission of authorities who are struggling to track the apparent financial chicanery.

Mr. Dreier, 58, controlled the finances of his law firm to an unusual degree, according to lawyers there, because of the unusual way it was set up.

Mr. Dreier was the only equity partner in the firm, and deals were structured so that only he knew all the specifics and had access to all accounts, people with the firm said in court papers. Mr. Dreier convinced lawyers that such an arrangement was best by emphasizing that it would allow them to concentrate on their first love, the law, while he worried about running the firm.

There would be no executive committee. No partners meetings. Mr. Dreier would handle all administrative chores.

For lawyers there now, the delegation of responsibility means that they are just now figuring out that Mr. Dreier had let their malpractice insurance lapse, exposing them to enormous risk if they are sued by Mr. Dreier’s growing list of potential victims, lawyers said.

Mr. Dreier, who grew up on Long Island, the son of a refugee from Poland who owned movie theaters, evolved into a bon vivant who belonged to the Harmonie Club and was a staple of high-wattage charity events.

As a lawyer, Mr. Dreier could be aggressive, as was evident when he was reprimanded in 2004 by a bankruptcy court judge. The judge found that Mr. Dreier had, on Mr. Solow’s behalf, played a role in placing false legal ads that highlighted the financial debts of a Solow Realty rival, Peter S. Kalikow.

The judge called the ads “an affront to the court” and “somewhat sleazy.”

Two years later, though, Mr. Dreier still did some work for the Solow firm and relied on that connection to convince Wall Street veterans that he was legitimately selling promissory notes issued by the company.

In 2007, one investment house, Perella Weinberg Partners, bought a company that had purchased the supposed Solow paper through Mr. Dreier, someone familiar with the situation said.

The investment firm has told its investors it had no reason to be overly suspicious about the notes because someone, ostensibly Mr. Dreier, had been paying interest on them in a timely manner. Now worthless, those and other notes purchased through Mr. Dreier were valued by the firm in November at $45 million, roughly 4 percent of the portfolio holding them.

A subpoena shows the government is seeking information about a dozen more hedge funds that may have been defrauded.

One investor on the list was Nick Maounis, the Connecticut trader who made headlines two years ago when a $6 billion fund he started called Amaranth blew up. He is now operating a new hedge fund known as Verition. A person close to Verition said the fund had declined to purchase the notes.

Making it harder to reconstruct the sale of the notes is the possibility that investors sold them among themselves. Prosecutors say the evidence against Mr. Dreier is strong and includes recordings in which he admits that some of the notes he was selling were fabricated.

Days before Mr. Dreier’s arrest in New York, court documents showed, a lawyer with his firm asked Mr. Dreier to release $38 million from an escrow account for a client, only to discover that much of the money had vanished.

The next day, Dec. 2, Mr. Dreier flew to Canada and tried to hold a meeting there very much like the unauthorized gathering he is said to have held in Solow’s Midtown Manhattan offices, the authorities say.

In the offices of the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, the authorities say, he tried to pass himself off as a lawyer for the plan and close the sale of an additional $33 million in fraudulent promissory notes supposedly backed by the plan.

A receptionist there caught on, the authorities said, and called the police, who arrested him.

Being jailed in Toronto did not curb Mr. Dreier’s interest in moving money, and he feverishly worked the phones, according to court papers.

At this point, the law firm’s comptroller refused his requests to move millions of dollars. He did agree, though, to Mr. Dreier’s request to be connected to the bank that handled the law firm’s accounts, an assistant United States attorney, Jonathan R. Streeter, said in a bail hearing on Thursday. “He successfully got $10 million transferred out of an escrow account into a personal account that he controlled,” Mr. Streeter said.

That money, like all the rest, remains unaccounted for.

Avi L. Shafran said...

Despite his middle initial, Bernard L. Madoff is no relation.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/13/nyregion/13madoff.html

His company’s portfolio was ample: $17 billion. His address was appropriate: East 64th Street, a few blocks off the park. He golfed at the Atlantic in the Hamptons, at Old Oaks in Westchester County, at the sunny Boca Rio in Boca Raton. He was reported to have three homes and a yacht in the Bahamas.

For Bernard L. Madoff, there was also his multimillion-dollar private foundation that doled out money to hospitals and theaters. Indeed, through his charity work at places like the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation or his public service at institutions like Yeshiva University, where he served on the board, Mr. Madoff seemed to have created a stainless persona of integrity and trust.

From the start, in fact, a motto of his business captured this image of simplicity and directness: “The owner’s name is on the door.”

But with his arrest on Thursday on federal charges of cheating investors of $50 billion in a fraud scheme, Mr. Madoff’s classic rise seemed to have had an equally spectacular fall.

“He was thought of as a great philanthropist, a pillar of the community, the chairman of Nasdaq — all of that stuff,” said one hedge fund executive who knew him.

“There was a joke around that Bernie was actually the Jewish T-bill,” the executive went on, referring to the ultrasecure investment of treasury bills. “He was that safe.”

Mr. Madoff had traveled far from his roots in eastern Queens, where as a young man he cobbled together a $5,000 grubstake from his earnings as a lifeguard and sprinkler installer to start the famed investment firm that eventually bore his name, Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities.

He had come to move easily in the clubby Jewish world that iterates between New York City and its suburbs and southern satellites like Palm Beach.

Indeed, in the world of Jewish New York, where Mr. Madoff, 70, was raised and found success, he is largely still considered as a macher: a big-hearted big shot for whom philanthropy and family always intertwined with — and were equally as important as — finance.

Mr. Madoff, who attended but never finished law school, was already rich by his early 50s, largely due to his intuitive grasp of the centrality of computers to high finance, he once told Forbes magazine. In an era when many, if not most, transactions were conducted on the phone, he turned his company into a fully automated operation that could make trades in as little as four seconds flat.

And soon the Madoff name — if not quite the equal of the Tisch name, for example — carried a quiet power.

"The guy never flaunted anything,” said one longtime friend. “And that fit with his rate of return, which was never attention-grabbing, just solid 12-13 percent year in, year out."

The friend, a private investor who knows Mr. Madoff from the Palm Beach Country Club and from the Hamptons, said friends and investors had been calling nonstop since the arrest.

"The pain is just unbelievable,” the friend said. “He was part of the family for so many people. There was this quiet culture of people, slightly older-money, who maybe weren’t that interested in the market, who kept saying to each other, ‘Just give Bernie your money, you’ll be fine.’ "

That culture had perhaps its best expression at the half-dozen golf clubs he belonged to, ranging from the woody Old Oaks in Purchase, N.Y., to the Palm Beach Country Club in Florida.

“He and his wife were nice golfers,” said Denise Lefrak Calicchio, part of the Lefrak real estate family, who knew the Madoffs socially through several of their clubs. “He and his wife seemed lovely.”

With time, some wealthy investors even joined clubs in order to become part of Mr. Madoff’s investments, some who knew him said. It was considered a favor to be introduced to the man as a potential investor.

“There were people joining golf clubs just to get into his fund,” said one investor who declined to be named. “This guy was held in such high regard.”

A member of the Palm Beach club said the Madoffs did not socialize as much as other members did, nor did they fight as aggressively as others to keep up with the club’s more aerobic social climbers. They were well-liked, and did not appear to be part of the “blister pack,” as one club member put it, a term that refers to those who get blisters on their hands and feet from ascending social ladders.

“They seemed to stay apart from the herd,” the club member said. “They chose not to get into that social rat race.”

Mr. Madoff was, in fact, so popular with investors that he often turned away their money. After Barbara S. Fox, president of the Fox Residential Group in Manhattan, had sold his son, Andrew, an apartment, she pleaded with Mr. Madoff — unsuccessfully — to let her invest in the Madoff funds.

“I literally begged him,” she said. While Ms. Fox does not know why he turned her down, she called him “protective.”

Still, his refusal to take some investors added to his allure. Robert Ivanhoe, chairman of the real estate practice of the law firm Greenberg Traurig, said that he asked one of his clients who over two decades invested at least $50 million with Mr. Madoff to approach Mr. Madoff to see if he could invest with him. He knew Mr. Madoff as a major player in charitable groups.

Mr. Madoff declined. Mr. Ivanhoe said that the rejection made investing with Mr. Madoff even more appealing.

“He was turning people away all the time,” Mr. Ivanhoe said. “He didn’t need to be active in a charity to get more investors. People chased to invest in him.”

As Mr. Madoff’s success increased, so too did his interest in philanthropy, which was often handled, much like his business itself, as a family enterprise. He sits on the board of trustees for Yeshiva, whose officials issued a statement on Friday saying they were “shocked” at the news of Mr. Madoff’s arrest. And with his wife, Ruth, he runs the Madoff Family Foundation, a $19 million operation that last year gave money to Kav Lachayim, a volunteer group that works in Israeli schools and hospitals, and to the Public Theater in New York.

It is perhaps a testament to the family’s importance in Jewish philanthropic circles that when a nephew of Mr. Madoff’s, Roger Madoff, died of leukemia in April 2006, paid death notices appeared in newspapers from charitable organizations ranging from the Gurwin Jewish Geriatric Center to the Lauri Strauss Leukemia Foundation to the Lower East Side Tenement Museum.

Family, too, has always been of outsized importance to Mr. Madoff, evidenced by the number of relatives he has brought into his business. His brother, Peter, joined the firm as a senior managing director shortly after graduating from law school in the late 1960s, and both of Mr. Madoff’s sons, Mark and Andrew, joined the team after finishing their own educations. In 1978, Charles Weiner, a son of Mr. Madoff’s sister, joined the firm; 17 years later, Peter Madoff’s daughter, Shana, took a job with the company as a lawyer.

The family was so close that they even lived within blocks of each other on the Upper East Side.

“What makes it fun for all of us is to walk into the office in the morning and see the rest of your family sitting there,” Mark Madoff told Wall Street and Technology magazine in August 2000. “That’s a good feeling to have. To Bernie and Peter, that’s what it’s all about.”

And when Mr. Madoff finally told two senior executives of his problems, he chose to confide in his sons, who would notify the authorities and begin a quick countdown to his arrest.

How about those Mets? said...

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/14/sports/baseball/14wilpon.html

Bob DuPuy, the president and chief operating officer of Major League Baseball, said Saturday that he and Commissioner Bud Selig had spoken with Wilpon on Friday. DuPuy said that all three believed that the fraud case would have no effect on the Mets’ operation.

But interviews Saturday with several people with knowledge of Wilpon’s business dealings revealed concern about significant problems that Wilpon and the Mets could encounter because of the reported fraud. Although it is unclear how much money Wilpon may recoup, any significant financial loss by a team owner raises questions about how those losses may affect the franchise.

“Any fraud that has been committed against Fred is something of deep distress to all of us and we feel very badly about the entire matter, but we all believe that this will not affect the team,” DuPuy said in a telephone interview.

Wilpon invested his own money and that of his investments firm, Sterling Equities, with Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities. That company had a long track record of strong and steady returns, but Madoff was arrested Thursday morning by federal agents at his apartment in Manhattan and later charged with securities fraud for operating what the authorities were portraying as the biggest Ponzi scheme in financial history.

Foltishener Rebbe Shulem Twersky said...

http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/brooklyn/2008/12/15/2008-12-15_dad_lost_it_in_beating_of_boy_13_say_cop.html

A top Brooklyn rabbi has been forbidden from being near his 13-year-old son after the teen called the cops on his father for beating him.

The son of Rebbe Sholom Twersky, 49, told police that his father scratched and slapped him on Oct. 28, hurting his arms, according to court records. The boy was taken to Maimonides Medical Center, where he was treated and released.

"He lost it and started slapping the kid around, and the kid wasn't going to take it," a police source said.

The Brooklyn district attorney's office charged the father of 12 with assault, endangering the welfare of a child and harassment.

The city's Administration for Children's Services is investigating the case, police sources said, and a temporary order of protection is keeping the dad away from his ninth child.

Twersky, leader of the Foltishen Hasidic sect, is allowed to run his congregation - Beth Hatfilah on 49th St. in Borough Park - but is not permitted to have "incidental contact" with his son inside their home located above the synagogue, according to court records.

Twersky's political influence was well-known in Borough Park, but became apparent within City Hall inner circles after the arrest.

Fred Kreizman, assistant commissioner of the Mayor's Community Affairs Unit, went to Borough Park to help the influential rabbi.

Cops kept Twersky out of the 66th Precinct's holding cell while Kreizman sat with him waiting for word on the arraignment, police sources said.

"Kreizman is a Jewish community liaison and it is not unusual for him to be present when a Jewish leader is involved in an incident," a City Hall spokesman said.

According to family, police and City Hall sources, Twersky went to upstate Monsey after his son phoned police.

Rahm Emanuel? said...

http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/blagojevich/1330610,CST-NWS-impeachside14.article

When it comes to coming clean, nothing is as motivating as a wiretap.

Last week's revelation that Gov. Blagojevich was secretly recorded in his campaign office and on his home phone has prompted more than a dozen potential witnesses in recent days to come forward. They've been calling investigators and defense lawyers to talk about deals or discussions they've had with Blagojevich.

One prominent criminal defense attorney, who asked not to be named, said he alone received calls from three potential clients claiming to be victims of pay-to-play schemes under the governor.

Aron Twerski said...

My cousin Shulem from Foltishen is an honorable Rebbe.

FalsherTzing Rebbe said...

I just added a new name for myself.

My cousin is the FalhserTzein - False Teeth Rebbe - and I'm the False Tongue Rebbe.

Steven Spielberg said...

http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117997366.html?categoryId=18&cs=1

Steven Spielberg charity the Wunderkinder Foundation earned 70% of its interest and dividend income from Madoff in 2006.

A Spielberg representative confirmed to the Journal that the foundation suffered losses on its Madoff investments. He couldn't comment on whether Spielberg had any of his own money invested with Madoff.

Ezra Merkin loses $1.8 Billion with Madoff said...

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122914169719104017.html

New potential victims emerged of Wall Street veteran Bernard Madoff's alleged giant Ponzi scheme, with international banks, hedge funds and wealthy private investors among those sorting out what could amount to tens of billions of dollars in losses.

New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon, GMAC LLC Chairman J. Ezra Merkin and former Philadelphia Eagles owner Norman Braman were among the dozens of seemingly sophisticated investors who placed money on what could prove to be history's largest financial scam.

Older, Jewish investors called Mr. Madoff " 'the Jewish bond,' " says Ken Phillips, head of a Boulder, Colo., investment firm. "It paid 8% to 12%, every year, no matter what."

Mr. Merkin, the chairman of former General Motors Corp. financing arm GMAC, is also a money manager at Ascot Partners LLC in New York. Ascot, which had $1.8 billion under management as of Sept. 30, had substantially all of its assets invested with Mr. Madoff, according to a letter to Mr. Merkin sent to clients Thursday night. Mr. Merkin said as one of the largest investors in Ascot, he believed he had personally "suffered major losses from this catastrophe."

Mr. Merkin could not be reached for comment.

YU too said...

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/13/business/13investors.html?em=&pagewanted=print

Mr. Merkin, a prominent philanthropist and the founder of several hedge funds, including one called Ascot Partners, jolted his clients on Thursday with a letter announcing that “substantially all” of that fund’s $1.8 billion in assets were invested with Mr. Madoff.

“As one of the largest investors in our fund, I have also suffered major losses from this catastrophe,” Mr. Merkin said in the letter. “We have retained counsel to determine what our next steps should be.”

Some of Mr. Merkin’s investors have also “retained counsel.” Harry Susman, a lawyer in the Houston office of Susman Godfrey, said he was talking with several clients about legal options.

“These investors were never aware that all of their money was invested with Madoff,” Mr. Susman said. “They are obviously shocked.”

Mr. Madoff has resigned from his positions at Yeshiva University, where he was treasurer for the university’s board and deeply involved in the business school.

“Our lawyers and accountants are investigating all aspects of his relationship to Yeshiva University,” said Hedy Shulman, a spokeswoman for the university.

The most recent tax filings for the university show that its endowment fund, a separate charity, was heavily invested in hedge funds and other nontraditional alternatives at the end of its fiscal year in 2006.

The school paper, the Yeshiva Commentator, recently reported that its endowment’s value had dropped to $1.4 billion from $1.8 billion — before the scandal broke.

FIN Alternatives said...

http://www.finalternatives.com/node/6365

Ezra Merkin's Ascot Fund was actually managed by Madoff.

Charlie Ponzi said...

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122914169719104017.html#project%3DPONZI1208%26articleTabs%3Dinteractive

Eh! UOJ da beste fraude investigator!

Flatishanner chuuuusid said...

Moooser!!!!!!!!!!!

proctologist said...

The Madoff bust did not come as a shock to many on Wall Street. What came as a shock was that he was running a Ponzi scheme (most people who suspected he was a crook--and there were many--thought he was front-running. Presumably advisors wouldn't want to invest their clients' money to someone who was front-running, either, so this was yet another reason to give Madoff a proctology exam).

Investment manager said...

I have been telling anyone who would listen that the entire YU Board should be fired for putting so much of the endowment in hedge funds. This was either the height of arrogance or stupidity or both. Joel should be fired for this one.

Washington Heights said...

This is worldwide chillul Hashem. I can just see all the smug anti-semites talking about doing business with Jews.

Rabbi Shimon Schwab said people like Madoff have the blood of the Jewish people on their hands.

Their are many so called frum Jews who conduct their businesses dishonestly and regard themselves as good Jews. The rabbis have badly fallen down on this. This behavior must be totally rooted out of our community. The Torah hates dishonesty of any type.

"UOJ" - "The Un-Orthodox Jew" said...

Just like the Agudah frauds NEVER would have joined forces with the Orthodox Jewish community on legislation in Albany to protect our kids without a gun to their heads --- Madoff had no intentions of coming clean with anyone. This scumbag had to come up with $7 billion, and he could not get his "investors" to invest that money with him because they were already broke!

Former Wall St. Bigshot said...

What Was Madoff Thinking?

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/MindMoodNews/story?id=6452520&page=1

Ronnie Schreiber Spokesman said...

Ronnie is fuming about the potential impact the Ponzi scheme will have on Chrysler & GMAC.

He's biking all the way from Hell. Michigan to the Manhattan jail to give Madoff a piece of his mind.

How Did Ronnie Schreiber Get Away With All That UOJ Baseball Cap Money? said...

http://cosmos.bcst.yahoo.com/up/player/popup/index.php?cl=11106909

Putz who voted for Obama said...

http://finance.yahoo.com/tech-ticker/article/145115/I-Knew-Bernie-Madoff-Was-Cheating--That's-Why-I-Invested-with-Him?tickers=%5Edji,&gspc,%5Eixic

I Knew Bernie Madoff Was Cheating, That's Why I Invested with Him

NY Magazine said...

http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2008/12/charities_old_people_jews_hit.html

Charities, Old People, Jews Hit Hardest by Madoff Fraud

Carl & Ruth Shapiro Family Foundation – 99-year-old Boston philanthropist Carl Shapiro's foundation lost $145 million, almost half its money, according to the Boston Globe

Chais Family Foundation – Gives out some $12.5 million each year to Jewish causes in Israel, the former Soviet Union, and Eastern Europe; announced yesterday that it had closed after losing all of its money through investments with Madoff.

Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity – Invested money with Madoff — its losses are thus far unknown.

Fairfield, Conn. – $42 million, or 15 percent of the town's retiree pension fund.

Madoff employees – "Generations of employees had worked for Madoff and invested their savings there."

Harel Insurance – Israeli investment service, $14.2 million.

HSBC – $1 billion at risk.

Avram J. Goldberg – Founder of the Stop & Shop supermarket chain.

Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles – $18 million of the Foundation's Common Investment Pool (currently valued at 11 percent of its assets) was invested with Madoff.

Julian J. Levitt Foundation – Texas-based Jewish charity, lost about $6 million.

The Madoff Family Foundation – Madoff's own charity gave to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Lincoln Center, Robin Hood Foundation, and others. Its $19 million is gone, obviously.

Mort Zuckerman, Daily News owner – "Significant exposure through a fund that invested substantially all of its assets with Mr. Madoff," according to the Journal.

New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg – "One of the wealthiest members of the Senate, entrusted his family's charitable foundation to Madoff. Lautenberg's attorney, Michael Griffinger, said they weren't yet sure the extent of the foundation's losses, but that the bulk of its investments had been handled by Madoff."

The North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System – $5 million.

Robert I. Lappin Charitable Foundation – The Boston-based charity, which financed trips for Jewish youth to Israel, announced last week: "The money needed to fund the programs of the Lappin Foundation is gone. The foundation staff has been terminated today."

http://jta.org/news/article/2008/12/14/1001530/madoff-scandal-rocks-jewish-philanthropic-world

Sources close to Yeshiva University, where Madoff served as treasurer of the board of trustees and board chairman of the university's Sy Syms School of Business until he resigned last week, said the school has lost at least $100 million. Y.U. officials declined to offer any specifics.

Just as the reverberations of the subprime mortgage collapse are still seen as contributing to the nation's wider economic meltdown, philanthropic insiders say the fallout from Madoff's scheme could be even greater. The insiders note that Madoff and others heavily invested in his fraudulent fund were major supporters of a plethora of nonprofit organizations, served on their boards or advised those organizations on how to invest their money -- in some cases placing large sums of the groups' capital in Madoff’s hands.

Reflecting this sense that the full extent of the damage is still unclear, the executive vice president and CEO of the UJA-Federation of New York said that even though its endowments were not exposed, the organization still could be hurt if donors lost money in the scheme.

“We do not yet know the full extent of the losses that supporters of UJA-Federation and other Jewish institutions have had,” John Ruskay said. “But we have already heard that many major institutions had substantial funds invested, as did foundations. Already in the context of a very challenging economic environment this will present another significant difficulty. We don’t know yet the extent of the wreckage.”

Among other Jewish institutions and foundations believed to be hit by the Madoff scandal: the American Jewish Congress, the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Steven Spielberg’s Wunderkinder Foundation, Elie Wiesel’s Foundation for Humanity and Carl Shapiro’s charitable foundation.

But Merkin, who last week told investors in his hedge fund, Ascot Partners, that all of their money had been defrauded by Madoff, is of particular interest to the Jewish community. He has philanthropic ties to a number of Jewish organizations and institutions, serving as a volunteer investment adviser for many of them, including Yeshiva University. Among other causes with which he is said to be connected are the SAR Academy, a Jewish day school in the Bronx, as well as State of Israel Bonds, The Jewish Campus Life Fund, Elaine Kaufman Cultural Center, the Ramaz School, Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun and the Fifth Avenue Synagogue.

Sources say that several of these entities had money in Ascot, which they now stand to lose because of Merkin's decision to invest so heavily in Madoff's fund. According to Orthodox communal insiders, Ramaz and SAR lost millions between them.

A woman who answered the phone Sunday at one of Merkin's listed numbers suggested that he could be reached in the office Monday.

An official at one major Jewish foundation told JTA that it had been advised to invest with Madoff, but decided against it after concluding that his return-on-investment forecasts seemed too good to be true.

Certainly the extent of the damage to the philanthropic world could become clearer as details emerge in coming days and weeks of just who was invested with Madoff.

One philanthropic official said there is a lesson to be learned here for the philanthropy world, where Jewish businessmen and philanthropists directed their own private funds and the funds of institutions that they help oversee toward Madoff.

“What really emerges out of this,” said Jeffrey Solomon, the president of the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies, is that "people sometimes forget to conduct the due diligence when dealing with others with social prominence -- and especially in the hedge-fund area where people think you have to be really smart to be in hedge funds. In many ways for all investments something like this is tragic, but for nonprofits where boards have the fiduciary responsibility of acting with great prudence, it is even more tragic.”

According to a fund-raiser who has been scouring recent 990 tax filings to see how this might affect his nonprofit, several other major philanthropists have put money in Madoff's hands: As of the end of 2007, Sandy Gottesman had $20 million of his foundation's $144 million invested with Madoff and Robert Beren had two foundations with more than that in endowments invested with Ascot. U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) says his foundation has about $15 million invested with Madoff.

Yeshiva University issued a statement via e-mail to JTA on Sunday.

“We are shocked at this revelation,” the university said. “Bernard Madoff has tendered his resignation from all positions affiliated with the university and involvement with the university. Our lawyers and accountants are investigating all aspects of his relationship to Yeshiva University. We reserve our comments until we complete our investigation.”

Anyone understand this? said...

http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/english/domestic/10466503.asp?scr=1

Some kind of scandal in Turkey involving this rabbi shown wearing a black hat.

Boog's "Sick out there and getting Sicker" File said...

http://www.kansascity.com/451/story/931129.html

Is nothing sacred?

Israeli police say they have busted a crime ring that preyed on beggars at the Western Wall.

According to an article in the Maariv newspaper, police went undercover to expose the small band of criminals that beat up and threatened beggars that gather at the holiest site in Judaism.

The three-month investigation determined that the gang would extort half the money from beggars, had burned the beggars with cigarette butts, and would sometimes dress up as beggars themselves.

"To great sorrow, it is clear, on the basis of the investigative material and good intelligence work, that criminal elements did not skip over the Western Wall, which is holy to all of us," the judge in the case said.

Western Wall beggars have always posed a conundrum for Jerusalem.

A few years ago, Western Wall officials tried to ban begging at the Western Wall after the number of beggars exploded and they became more aggressive in seeking money.

One abusive beggar reportedly approached some German tourists and tried to play on their guilt.

"You killed our people, now give some money," the beggar reportedly demanded.

"It is a great shame that the deeds of a few cause such a harsh blow to charity and to a disgrace of God. In my conception and outlook it is part of the atmosphere of the Western Wall Plaza to be charitable and it is sad that such a thing must be impeded," said Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovich, rabbi of the Western Wall. "But to my regret my requests and pleading were not accepted and this situation of enforcement was forced on us all. How can we stand to see fellow Jews being forcibly removed from the Western Wall? Is this what we've dreamed of? Definitely not!"

Beggars still camp out near the wall, and now it is the criminal gangs, acting as Holy Land bullies, that are creating the newest problems at the Western Wall.

The gang allegedly made good money beating up the Western Wall beggars, and more arrests are expected to come soon.

Dion Nissenbaum covers the Middle East for McClatchy Newspapers as Jerusalem bureau chief. E-mail him at dnissenbaum@mcclatchydc.com.

Wall St Journal Op-ed criticizes Dov Hikind said...

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122904966846300955.html

Who Will End the Abuse?

Rahm-bo said...

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122926660096904673.html

DECEMBER 15, 2008

Emanuel, Blagojevich Aides Discussed Senate Seat

By JONATHAN WEISMAN, NAFTALI BENDAVID and CAM SIMPSON

Barack Obama had begun thinking about his Senate successor even before the presidential election, and dispatched Rahm Emanuel days after the vote to contact aides of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich to begin talking up Mr. Obama's preferred candidates, associates of Mr. Emanuel said this weekend.

Mr. Emanuel, a congressman from Chicago, had been approached about being Mr. Obama's White House chief of staff the week before the election, though he hadn't yet officially decided to take the post. Nonetheless, the issue of Mr. Obama's Senate replacement was sensitive enough that senior Obama aides wanted to keep the matter within the circle of Illinois political figures, according to people familiar with campaign deliberations at the time.

Among those in Mr. Obama's inner circle, Mr. Emanuel had one of the closest relationships to Mr. Blagojevich, a Democrat. He had succeeded Mr. Blagojevich in 2002 to the House seat that covered Chicago's near north side.

Neither Mr. Emanuel nor representatives of the transition team would comment for this article.

The Chicago Tribune reported Saturday that Mr. Emanuel relayed to Mr. Blagojevich's team a list of candidates who would be acceptable to the Obama camp, and that these conversations were captured on a tape possessed by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald.

Murder of Moshe Yaish hy'd said...

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3637452,00.html

Moshe Yaish-Nahari, the brother of a prominent rabbi in Yemen was shot to death on Thursday in Rida, Yemen, located north of the capital Sana'a, the London-based Arabic newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat reported.

Local sources said the suspected killer, Abed el-Aziz el-Abadi, a former MiG-29 pilot in Yemen's air force, has been apprehended and taken in for questioning.

Eyewitnesses told the newspaper that el-Abadi had confronted Nahari at the market in Rida, called out to him "Jew, accept the message of Islam" and then proceeded to open fire with a Kalashnikov assault rifle. Nahari was struck by five bullets.

According to the preliminary investigation, the suspect had murdered his wife just two years ago, but avoided jail time by offering her family compensation.

Deputy head of security of the Amran province, Ahmed el-Sarihi, told Asharq Al-Awsat that el-Abadi is "an extremist who suffers from mental problems".

According to the security official, the suspect has admitted to killing Nahari, and told his interrogators that "these Jews must convert to Islam".

Nahari is the brother of Rabbi Yehiya Yaish, one of the leaders of Yemen's Jewish community.

Haviv Nahari, the victim's brother-in-law who resides in Ashkelon told Ynet that the family was in "total shock" upon hearing of Yaish's murder.

"We spoke to him just last Saturday and asked him how his family was doing," Haviv told Ynet, adding "we knew there was anti-Semitism in Yemen, but I never imagined someone would take a rifle and murder a Jew on the street in broad daylight."

According to Haviv, three years ago his sister and her husband decided to make aliyah after visiting Israel a few times.

"They sold their house and we prepared for their arrival, but at the last moment Moshe's father changed his mind and convinced them to stay in Yemen," he said. "My sister is now a widow with nine children.

"My sister took it very hard. She cried and passed out," he said.

Haviv said Moshe (35) worked as a butcher in the local Jewish community, and in recent years had strengthened his ties to the Satmar Hasidic movement in Yemen.

http://www.zawya.com/Story.cfm/sidGN_12122008_10266529/Jew%20in%20Yemen%20shot%20dead%20by%20gunman

"We appeal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh to order implementation of Islamic Shariah against the killer, an eye for eye, and soul for soul, and people are equal in the eyes of Allah," Mousa said.

http://www.infolive.tv/en/infolive.tv-35024-israelnews-jews-yeme3n-ask-government-protect-them

The Jewish community in Yemen has demanded the government protect them or deport them from the country after a former pilot and religious extremist killed Mousa Yaish last Thursday. As long as the State is unable to protect us and secure us in our homeland, then,the government should buy our houses and properties and pay us the money and deport us from the country," Yaish's brother Rabbi Yahya bin Yaish, told local reporters. He claimed that in recent months members of the Jewish community had suffered abuse and assaults. The Jewish community numbers less than 500 people among Yemen's population of 22 million The Ministry of Interior said Saturday it had arrested eight of these people accused of abusing the Jews.

Anonymous said...

The young son of the Faultyshiner Rebbe has given hope to thousands of abused children. Sexual abuse is a major problem in Orthodoxy, but physical abuse is also a grave concern. He has valiantly stood up to his animal father who "lost it" and beat him.

No father has a right to hit their child. Especially as they mature and realize how wrong the abusive behaviors are. This falls into "lifnei iver", the father was tempting his son to deck him.

The boy should be applauded for standing up to his piece of dreck father, take the beating, but report it. REPORTING abuse is the only way to stop abuse.

Abuse happens in the Chassidish, Litvish, Yeshivish, Yekkish and Modern Orthodox worlds. It must be eradicated wherever, and whenever it happens.

An animal who physically abuses someone, will surely harm more people in other ways as well.

Yisroel Goodman said...

Yay!

Yetzt Ich Bin Famous!

Security said...

http://www.kansascity.com/255/story/934393.html

New York-based BrickHouse Security is offering up to 200 nonprofit religious institutions a free month’s use of security cameras and GPS products it distributes.

Chief executive officer Todd Morris said the idea was born after a few churches asked about one-month rentals instead of longer contracts that are the norm. The first 20 or so applications came from synagogues, he said.

Rabbi Yochonon Goldman of Lubavitch of Center City, a Philadelphia-area branch of the Chabad Lubavitch movement, signed up even though his previous biggest scare involved the wind knocking down a menorah.

“People are very security-conscious, and this is simply a precaution,” said Goldman, who will put a GPS on one menorah and a camera on another. “It’s sad ... but it’s the reality we’re faced with.”

As members of a minority religion, Jews are probably hit harder when their religious symbols are vandalized, said Deborah Lauter, national civil rights director for the Anti-Defamation League.

“If Baby Jesus is removed, it tends to be seen as a prank,” Lauter said. “Vandalism or theft of a menorah is just more sensitive. You feel like you’re really being targeted for your religion.”

The ADL identified 699 incidents of anti-Semitic vandalism in 2007, consistent with recent years.

Chaim Kauftial said...

THE SCOFFLAW KING
MAN OWES CITY $81G FOR 415 PARKING TICKETS

By KYLE MURPHY and CHUCK BENNETT
Click for photo gallery WHO, ME? Alexander Khamish, in a car belonging to a relative, claims his parking fines resulted from somebody stealing his identity.

PHOTOS: Alexander Khamish

Last updated: 3:20 pm
December 15, 2008
Posted: 3:19 am
December 15, 2008

The city's No. 1 parking-ticket scofflaw is a 30-year-old insurance broker from Long Island, records show.

PHOTOS: Alexander Khamish

Alexander Khamish earned the dubious distinction of wracking up an $81,039 debt, according to the city's Department of Finance.

But despite amassing 415 tickets since 2004, the Merrick man claims they've got the wrong guy.

"Basically, someone registered [the offending] vehicles under my name," Khamish said.

"I knew about this a couple years ago, but I didn't know it [involved an] $80,000 [debt].

"Someone did register vehicles under my name before I found out, but I was going back and forth with the DMV, and from the last I heard, I thought everything was OK."

POP VIDEO QUIZ: Top Car Chases

Khamish said he had no idea of the debt until contacted by The Post.

Ken Brown, a spokesman for the state Department of Motor Vehicles, said it received no paperwork regarding Khamish's claim.

But Khamish denied ever owning or leasing five cars registered to him at his old Brooklyn address. While it's unclear which of the cars may have racked up the violations, Khamish's driver's license is currently suspended because whoever registered three of those cars in his name at his old address sent bad checks to the DMV, records show.

The Finance Department said it has been sending its letters to Khamish's old Brooklyn address.

"If it winds up his identity was stolen, he won't be responsible for the tickets," said Finance Department spokesman Owen Stone.

Meanwhile, the other individuals on the city's top-10 scofflaw list haven't changed over the past year.

The No. 2 scofflaw, Christopher Wood of Floral Park, Queens, came in at $66,233 owed on 404 tickets since 2002.

Others include Sammy Gawad, 54, a former cop from The Bronx who was fired from the NYPD after numerous allegations of abuse. He has a $37,121 debt for 231 tickets dating back to 2000.

Other perennials include Chaim Kauftial, an Israeli with 229 outstanding tickets totaling $42,228 over the past eight years, and Israel Colon of Newark, NJ, with $49,167 in penalties and fines for 278 tickets since 2003.

cbennett@nypost.com

Rabbi Weinberg's shul in Far Rockaway said...

http://khalchesedvemes.org/ShulList.pdf

Guess which other ganav davens in Khal Chesed Vemes besides Yisroel Goodman?

Bungalow Yenta said...

Any relation to the Kaufteils who own the clothing stores on 16th Ave in Boro Park and go to super-Hungarian Forestburgh bungalow putz colony?

Back Lawrence said...

The commentary here is mistaken.

Melly Lifshitz first lived in Hewlett Bay Park and then moved to Lawrence. Not the other way around.

chaptzem said...

Monday, December 15, 2008

Stop child molesters at Shomer Shabbos Shul in Boro-Park

Shomer Shabbos Shul in Boro-Park, or rather as it is more affectionately known as the Boro-Park Minyan Factory, is one of the cornerstones for positivity in the community. From early Shachris minyanim to late Maariv minyanim, to the goods and services that are provided there for free to all, Shomer Shabbos is truly a positive force.

However, there is one overwhelming problem that plagues this otherwise positive religious nerve-center. That is the proliferation of child molesters that frequent the Shul and abuse children. In the last few months alone there have been literally hundreds of incidences where children and young teens have been fondled and groped by evil and heinous individuals. These people look no different than the average mispallel, but differ by the fact that they are pure evil. They have found their free haven to practice their molestation of innocent children without any roadblocks.

With this petition we call upon the Shomer Shabbos Shul in Boro-Park and all of their officers and board members to swiftly put a stop to these outrageous crimes that are taking place right under their noses. They have been informed many times about what is taking place and have been given the specific names of the many individuals that are responsible for these crimes against the souls of children. Yet they go about their daily lives doing nothing to stop it. We ask you to sign this petition that there be an extra vigilance by the Shomer Shabbos Shul to stop these perpetrators immediately.

We ask that as a first step to ending this reign of terror in a Makom Kodosh, that these identified, and many already convicted offenders, be expelled from the Shul and that surveillance cameras be immediately installed to deter further perpetrators.

Please sign this petition and communicate your outrage to the Shomer Shabbos Shul of Boro-Park. Remember, the child that you are saving may be your own!

Anonymous said...

NEW YORK – A federal judge has signed an order saying investors who may have been duped in one of Wall Street's biggest frauds need the protection of the Securities Investor Protection Act. Judge Louis Stanton also directed that proceedings to liquidate the assets of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC be moved to bankruptcy court.

The order was signed Monday afternoon after the Securities Investor Protection Corp. submitted papers asking for the protection for investors.

Stanton assigned Irvin Picard to preside as trustee over the liquidation.

The order came just days after federal prosecutors charged Madoff with securities fraud, saying he had admitted squandering nearly $50 billion from investors in a massive Ponzi scheme.

Shomer Shabbos Gabbai Hillel Moses said...

What do you want from me? I just try to send chiyuvim to the amud and shaft rides to Lakewood.

If I try to stop molesters they will grab the pushkas out of my hands and clobber me!

The son of Attorney General Mukasey said...

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&refer=home&sid=aKgINkd9m988

The advisory operations were on the 17th floor.

While traffic flowed between the 18th and 19th floors, the 17th floor wasn’t linked to the others and there was virtually no interaction between the groups, according to the employees.

Madoff’s sons, who ran the market-making and proprietary units, told employees their father kept them in the dark about the advisory unit, the employees said. While Madoff seldom appeared on the 18th and 19th floors during the workday, he was known to inspect during the evening for sloppy desks or window shades that weren’t fully drawn, one of the employees said.

The only person the employee recalled seeing Madoff consult with on the 17th floor was an executive known by his first name, Frank.

Reached by phone at home, Madoff official Frank DiPascali referred calls to his lawyer, Marc Mukasey, a former federal prosecutor now at Bracewell & Giuliani in New York, who declined to comment. His father is U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey, a former New York federal judge.

No one answered the door today at DiPascali’s home in Bridgewater, New Jersey, which tax records show was assessed at $1.38 million this year. A black Mercedes sat on the circular driveway in the almost seven-acre parcel, which includes a pond. A project to replace siding on the house is in progress and a construction permit in DiPascali’s name hung in a front window.

Anonymous said...

Well there is a lot going on here and most of it is way off the topic. Here's my take. We are all responsible for what is going on. We can't wait for the Rabbonim only to take a stand, we are all responsible to take a stand not just the Rabbonim.

Here is my question that baffles the heck out of me. How could the Torah Temimah parents not pull their kids out of the school at least for a couple of days when the Kolko story broke? Weren't they even a little bit afraid?

Here is another question. How could the town of Lakewood honor Margolis and throw their children at him? How could you trust your kids with him after what he allowed to happen? And yet we blame the Rabbonim. What about the parents? What are their obligations to their own kids? They are literaly making korbonim out of them.

Here is another question, why did that poster say, he is waiting for the Rabbonim to do something why is he not doing something. I do, I started an organization to fight this. If everyone stood up to be counted, the Rabbonim would wake up and see that they had the support to do something good.

What if parents all got together and refused to send their kids to the school, what then? But the parents were too afraid. How sad. But they were not too afraid to make karbonos of their kids. Did they start walking the halls and monitor Kolko after the wake up call?

Why are there not protests outside of Mondrowitz's home in E"Y? Why arent the neighbors yelling and screaming outside his door telling him to go back to the states where he came from. Why aren't friends and relatives of his victims in E"Y rallying and picketing outside his home?

I fully understand why you UOJ have problems with the system I as a frum grandmother have problems with the system as well. I have no problems with Hashem, I assume he is crying bitter tears over this mess as I am. I also assume he is giving me whatever Koach and drive I have to keep working towards a solution.

What I don't understand is the horrible comments and judgement your readers and commentors are making about BT's and others. I don't understand why Jews have to be so disgusting and degrading to one and other. Why is it ploni's business how one Rav brings BT's into the fold even if he doesn't make them take on all the mitzvos or all the rules at once. It is not his business, eventually they will. It is about one step at a time, and a BT does not have the same rules as a Ger Tzedek which is required to take on all the mitzvos at once. But this too is neither here nor there it is about our stupid need to be holier than thou and judge each other for doing wrong or not as good as the other guy.

So what if it is not up to your standards, you are not G-d and it doesn't have to be up to your standards. You are not deciding chaim or maves and what goes on in yenem's bedroom is none of your business. If you were truly and ehrliche yid you would know that.

It really pains me that all these yentas take such delight in knocking their own brothers and cousins so to speak. Is it any wonder that you choose to step away from us? Is it any wonder that young kids choose to walk away from us, no excuse me run away, they run away from the hypocrisy of us and some of us, myself included, work so hard to get the kids back.

I'm sorry we lost you, you seem like an honest individual, we could use more honesty in our circles.

boog the gerrorist said...

Mondrowitz is ger's poster child. dont ever forget that meir silberstein, the chief rov of ger in yerushalayim has actively protected mondrowitz and disparages the suffering youths who have been molested and raped and sodomized by this vile rosho.

Next career for Belsky: Train conductor said...

http://www.globes.co.il/serveen/globes/DocView.asp?did=1000407843

A new corruption scandal has emerged at Israel Railways. The Israel Police Central District Fraud Squad today arrested Israel Railways national workers committee chairman Shaul Okish, deputy chairman Micha Hayoun, former Israel Railways VP human resources Yitzhak Sari, and the owner of a vendor to Israel Railways in a bribery case at the workers committee.
The police this morning raided a number of offices of the Israel Railways workers committee in Lod and Tel Aviv, seized documents, and detained four suspects for questioning. The raids were the culmination of an undercover investigation launched in June.

The Israel Railways workers committee officials are suspected of accepting bribes, in the form of so-called entry fees amounting to thousands of shekels by people seeking employment at the company. They are also suspected of accepting bribes from service vendors in exchange for tailoring tenders and ensuring wins by the vendors.

The investigation was partly based on a report by the Office of the State Comptroller, which found that Israel Railways had paid Okish and his deputy excessive salaries on dates close to the signing of collective labor contracts.

How could the Rebbe Permit this? said...

Chabad charity Children of Chernobyl, had investments with Mr. Madoff, although a spokesman said he did not know how much.

Forbes said...

Merry Christmas From Bernard Madoff
Carrie Coolidge, 12.15.08, 08:19 PM EST

The money manager may be guilty of many things, but it appears front-running isn't one of them.

Jack Holt received a Christmas card from one of his clients on Monday. The card, with an illustration of a pine tree and snow on the front, wouldn’t normally pique his interest were it not from Madoff Investment Securities. Bernard Madoff, chairman of the firm, seems to have pulled off the largest investment fraud ever.

Holt is chief executive of S3, an Austin-based company that processes data for most of the major financial services firms in the United States. He signed Madoff Investment Securities up as a client a year ago Sunday for a service that tries to verify best execution, which Wall Street middlemen need for compliance purposes.

Execution means providing the most advantageous prices to clients. A dishonest market maker could make money by, say, buying a stock for its own account right before executing a big purchase order for a customer. That illegal tactic is known as front-running. It's different than what Madoff is so far alleged to have done, but if you were a crooked market maker, it would be a logical temptation.

S3, however, analyzed external trade data for Madoff Investment Securities and found no best-execution violations in the past year. S3’s data show Madoff to have been in the top tier of market performers for best execution.

But that analysis was for the main business of Madoff Investment Securities, executing trades for big clients. It did not reach into the investment-advisory operation that Madoff seems to have been running on his own. That business, where the apparent Ponzi scheme occurred, did not provide information about its proprietary trades.

"Firms like us, who are outsourcers for best execution, are not sent the internal trades," said Holt. "If this information were made available, it would would take one day for us to do the analysis for months or even years of front-running. We could easily, given the information, discover if Madoff was front-running."

It appears, however, that he wasn't. The SEC confirmed to Forbes that it investigated Madoff Investment Securities in 2005 and 2007. It found three violations of best-execution rules in 2005; the 2007 probe, prompted by an informant who suspected front-running or a Ponzi scheme, did not lead investigators to "refer the matter to the commission for enforcement action," a spokesman said.

Front-running would have helped Madoff to juice returns, but he would have run a high risk of being detected. With a Ponzi scheme, there's no need to do any trading at all.

Madoff’s market-making operation is out of business, Holt said. "Our data shows that all orders routed to his firm were terminated when the markets opened on Dec. 12, the morning after news of his disturbing public admission of fraud," said Holt. "All of his clients pulled their trade flow."

Competitors such as Knight Securities are getting the business.

Channel Holt took another look at the Christmas card on his desk. Opening it up, he read out loud the inscription on the inside: "All of us in join in saying 'thank you' and wishing you a happy holiday season. From your Friends at Madoff."

The Madoff Christmas card might just fetch more on eBay than investors will recover.

Arthur said...

By Noam Neusner, who was a speechwriter and Jewish liaison for President Bush from 2002-2005.)

President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush will watch Monday night as the grandsons of Harry Truman and David Ben-Gurion light a menorah on the State Floor of the White House.

It will be the eighth year the president has devoted an evening to celebrate Chanukah, and more than 600 Jewish friends and guests will celebrate with him. The White House will serve kosher food and the Marine Band will play Chanukah favorites.

Cynics will say it’s easy for presidents to do these kinds of events — that’s what all presidents do, after all. They hold nice parties and make people feel good and important.

But with this president, the Jews are different — they really do matter to him. I know because I saw it firsthand on his staff and as his liaison to the Jewish community. I saw his eyes well up while watching the Holocaust-themed movie “Paper Clips” in the family theater. I know how moved he was by meeting with Soviet Jewish refuseniks, Holocaust survivors and the parents of slain journalist Daniel Pearl.

There was one meeting in particular — with Jews from around the world, Jews who had made their home in America after years of suffering at the hands of tyrants in Cuba, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Iran and some of the other recent or current bastions of anti-Semitism. One by one they recalled their struggles to simply live and pray as Jews, and how America alone gave them that right. The president walked out of the meeting shaking his head, appalled by the special hatred tyrants have reserved for the Jews. Always the Jews.

At one meeting, before the president could open his mouth, an elderly rabbi, the head of a major yeshiva, spoke up.

“Mr. President,” he said, in a high and raspy voice. “I believe that had history placed you in your special position during World War II, there would not have been a Holocaust.”

The president was clearly moved. Presidents may grow accustomed to praise, but this was more than even he had heard.

Yet Bush tried his best to be equal to it. The president famously hated hypothetical questions, but there was one he would entertain: If he had been president, would he have stopped Auschwitz?

Some will say the question is historically unserious. Perhaps the Allies had the capability to drop bombs on the death camps or the rails, but the Nazis surely would have found other ways to kill the Jews.

Yet he did not view the issue that way — certainly President Roosevelt could have slowed the Nazi death machinery. Bush pressed the question to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice when he visited Yad Vashem. References to Auschwitz, which he also visited, routinely dropped into his conversations with Jewish friends.

“Now I understand,” he would say. “Auschwitz changed everything.”

His critics said he was morally absolute — “you’re either with us or against us” was not one of their favorite phrases. But that moral clarity could be an incredibly powerful force, and Jews above all should have known it.

I recall sitting in a meeting where a high-level aide was trying to excuse the antics of Yasser Arafat. The president cut him off, saying clearly, “The guy’s a bust.” End of discussion.

Here was a president who would buttonhole leaders of other nations over anti-Semitism in their own countries. In one incident, the president complained to the leader of Estonia about a statue erected to a nationalist guilty of Holocaust war crimes.

“Get rid of it,” Bush said.

Imagine, amid the happy and polite talk of diplomatic meetings, a leader actually confronting another over some meaningless Jew haters.

Israel has fought two wars during Bush’s eight years as president — an interior war against terror and a war against Hezbollah — and both times the Jewish state came under intense pressure to hold back. But Israel had no friend as loyal and certain as the United States. Bush capped his friendship with Israel in May at the Knesset, delivering one of the most pro-Zionist speeches ever.

“Israel’s population may be just over 7 million,” he said, “but when you confront terror and evil, you are 307 million strong because the United States of America stands with you.”

Of course, the president didn’t eradicate anti-Semitism or the threats faced by Israel. Far from it; moderate and conservative critics say he didn’t do enough to confront Iran, while liberals say he was overly bellicose. Many argue that his push for Palestinian elections empowered Hamas.

Fair enough. But those criticisms do not explain the president’s unpopularity among American Jews. He captured less than a quarter of the Jewish vote in 2004, and his approval ratings among Jews now is minuscule.

I will grant his critics their right to dislike him. After all, he isn’t with them on federal support for embryonic stem cell research, the Iraq war, environmental regulations, abortion rights, gay marriage and civil liberties for terror suspects, to name a few.

But most of all, he was a Southern evangelical Republican. Given that, I suspect there was nothing he could have done to win over the Jews.

To his critics, his leadership on Israel and anti-Semitism was quaint and one-dimensional. They took it for granted. But they should not be so casual with a friend. President Bush was more Zionist than many Israelis, more mindful of Jewish history than many Jews. He was not wrong to think that way, and we American Jews can be thankful at least for that.

Anonymous said...

The shidduch crisis is our generations form of "Molech" idol worship. Where people sacrifice all values and morals for the sake of finding the elusive shidduch. They simply don't believe Hashem has any power or control in the equation.

Who in their right minds would allow their child to go out with a family of criminals, families with histories of abuse, history of molestation, histories of dysfunctionality, and a history of broken engagements and marriages? Only fools who believe they are in control of their own destiny, not Hashem.

For the sake of the Almighty Molech Shidduch they throw away everything

Anon at 1:27 am doesn't get it said...

The larger part of the shidduch crisis is because the girls are making a lot of money which makes them too comfortable to want to get married. You wouldn't believe what kind of guys they spurn.

There is also the problem, although lesser, of guys who are too afraid to commit.

The modern crowd is also sexually active which provides less incentive to get married. This trend has also been creeping into more yeshivish circles.

YU Fresser said...

http://blogs.jta.org/philanthropy/article/2008/12/15/1001567/joel-keeps-mood-light-but-addresses-madoff-mess-at-yu-dinner-sunday

As news was filtering down that its endowment took a serious hit due to its investment with Bernard Madoff, Yeshiva University held its 84th annual Hanukkah banquet Sunday night at the posh Waldorff Astoria hotel in Manhattan.

The dinner was preceded by its annual Academic Convocation at which the Modern Orthodox university awarded several honorary degrees and doctoral degrees, including one to New York Governor David Paterson and another to Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, the religious leader of Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun and the principal of the Ramaz Day School.

Y.U. has yet to issue an official announcement about hard it was hit by the fraudulent hedge fund run by Madoff, who served as treasurer of the univeristy's board of trustees and chairman of its Sy Syms School of Business until he resigned last week amid news of the scandal. But the rumor swirling around the banquet was that the university’s endowment had lost $107 million, or about 10% of its total value.

That would be a significant hit for the school that in July told the Fundermentalist that it was embarking upon a $1 billion fundraising campaign.

But beyond the endowment, members of Y.U.’s board of trustees also appear to be significantly hurt.

According to research of 990 forms conducted by a fund raiser I know, at least four members of Y.U.’s board had significant charitable dollars invested with Madoff, either directly or through J. Ezra Merkin’s Ascot Partners, a hedge fund which lost all of its $1.8 billion in assets after puttting them in Madoff's hands:

Ludwig Bravmann’s foundation had $5 million of its $20 million invested with Ascot as of June 2007.
Warren Eisenberg’s foundation had $5 million of its $100 million invested with Madoff as of June 2007.
Emanuel Gruss’s foundation had an unknown portion of its $33 million invested with Ascot as of March 2007.
Joshua Muss’ foundation had $2 million of its $23 million invested with Madoff as of October 2007.
Elie Wiesel’s Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity apparently had all of its $40 million invested with Madoff.

Sunday, Y.U.’s president Richard Joel tried to keep the mood light -- as is his M.O. -- cracking jokes frequently as he introduced honories.

But he did very briefly address Y.U.’s financial situation.

“In light of the events of the last four days, we are looking into the ramifications. We want to ensure that Yeshiva University remains the gold standard,” he said. “This university is strong. Its finances remain strong.”

He then joked, “I have also just made a deal with the governor, so don’t worry."

Paterson, who received an honorary doctorate of laws from Y.U., met with reporters after the convocation for a brief press conference and said that the Madoff case is further evidence that the hedge fund market needs more regulation.

Lookstein is also a significant character in the Madoff story, as Orthodox communal insiders say that Ramaz may have lost as much as $6 million of its endowment.

There had been a rumor swirling Sunday that Ramaz had lost its entire endowment, but Lookstein vehementaly denied that in an interview with the Fundermentalist at the Y.U. dinner.

The event drew 753 attendees, who paid at least $750 a plate, and Madoff was certainly the elephant in the room.

Y.U. was scheduled to have an annual board meeting Monday afternoon, so more details could be forthcoming soon.

Gedaliah Weinberger said...

This is the company I work for.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/16/business/worldbusiness/16siemens.html

December 16, 2008
Siemens to Pay $1.34 Billion in Fines

By ERIC LICHTBLAU and CARTER DOUGHERTY

WASHINGTON — Siemens, the German engineering giant, agreed Monday to pay a record total of $1.6 billion to American and European authorities to settle charges that it routinely used bribes and slush funds to secure huge public works contracts around the world.

The company also pleaded guilty in federal court in Washington to charges that it violated a 1977 law banning the use of corrupt practices in foreign business dealings.

The fines that the company agreed to pay on the American side of the case — $450 million to the Justice Department and $350 million to the Securities and Exchange Commission — dwarf the previous high for a foreign corruption case brought by Washington. That mark of $33 million was set last year in the case of Baker Hughes, an oil conglomerate that paid a total of $44 million over foreign bribery charges.

Mortimer Zuckerman said...

I went on ABC Nightline last night to blame Ezra Merkin for investing my money like a fool with Madoff.

But when Brian Ross asked me how, as the bigshot owner of the NY Daily News & US News & World Report, I could be so dumb to blindly invest without asking questions myself, I was the one who was looking stupid.

The truth is, they wouldn't let me become president of Jewish organizations because of my shiksa wife, so I figured investing with Merkin was the most Jewish thing I could do.

Ezra Merkin, sheitel macher said...

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/16/business/16charity.html?em=&pagewanted=print

The Ramaz School, where Mr. Merkin was on the investment committee, lost some $6 million invested with Mr. Madoff, according to a letter sent to board members and two parents whose children attend the school.

The SAR (Salanter Akiba Riverdale) Academy, a Jewish school in the Bronx, had roughly a third of its $3.7 million in assets invested with Mr. Madoff, according to an e-mail message it sent to donors and parents. That exposure was through the Ascot Fund, a charity to provide wigs for people with the baldness disease alopecia, which is run by Mr. Merkin, the chairman of GMAC.

And Steven Spielberg’s Wunderkinder Foundation, which supports organizations like the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and the Chabad charity Children of Chernobyl, had investments with Mr. Madoff, although a spokesman said he did not know how much.

Ponzi Scheme 101 said...

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/15/business/15palm.html?em=&pagewanted=print

... a woman joked that she now knew the proper way to pronounce his name.

“Made off,” she said. “You know, like he made off with all our money.”

Ronnie Schreiber Spokesman said...

Ronnie still has some of those UOJ baseball caps that people paid for and were swindled out of if anyone with alopecia wants to buy one now that Ezra is getting out of the sheytel business.

Detroit Circuit Board Repair Shop said...

Ronnie paid me with UOJ currency, 300 baseball caps. Rumor has it that he invested with Madoff and the FBI found that in the last two weeks Made-Off was trading UOJ caps. Will we ever know the truth?

Expect more arrests said...

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/15/business/15madoff.html?em=&pagewanted=print

The epicenter of what may be the largest Ponzi scheme in history was the 17th floor of the Lipstick Building, an oval red-granite building rising 34 floors above Third Avenue in Midtown Manhattan.

A busy stock-trading operation occupied the 19th floor, and the computers and paperwork of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities filled the 18th floor.

But the 17th floor was Bernie Madoff’s sanctum, occupied by fewer than two dozen staff members and rarely visited by other employees. It was called the “hedge fund” floor, but federal prosecutors now say the work Mr. Madoff did there was actually a fraud scheme whose losses Mr. Madoff himself estimates at $50 billion.

And the 17th floor is now an occupied zone, as investigators and forensic auditors try to piece together what Mr. Madoff did with the billions entrusted to him by individuals, banks and hedge funds around the world.

So far, only Mr. Madoff, the firm’s 70-year-old founder, has been arrested in the scandal. He is free on a $10 million bond and cannot travel far outside the New York area.

But a question still dominates the investigation: how one person could have pulled off such a far-reaching, long-running fraud, carrying out all the simple practical chores the scheme required, like producing monthly statements, annual tax statements, trade confirmations and bank transfers.

Firms managing money on Mr. Madoff’s scale would typically have hundreds of people involved in these administrative tasks. Prosecutors say he claims to have acted entirely alone.

“Our task is to find the records and follow the money,” said Alexander Vasilescu, a lawyer in the New York office of the Securities and Exchange Commission. As of Sunday night, he said, investigators could not shed much light on the fraud or its scale. “We do not dispute his number — we just have not calculated how he made it,” he said.

Scrutiny is also falling on the many banks and money managers who helped steer clients to Mr. Madoff and now say they are among his victims.

Mr. Madoff was not running an actual hedge fund, but instead managing accounts for investors inside his own securities firm.

While many investors were friends or met Mr. Madoff at country clubs or on charitable boards, even more had entrusted their money to professional advisory firms that, in turn, handed it to Mr. Madoff — for a fee. Investors are now questioning whether these paid advisers were diligent enough in investigating Mr. Madoff to ensure that their money was safe. Where those advisers work for big institutions like Banco Santander, investors will most likely look to them, rather than to the remnants of Mr. Madoff’s firm, for restitution.

By the elevated standards of Wall Street, the Madoff firm did not pay exceptionally well

Investors consider suing Merkin said...

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/16/business/16merkin.html

J. Ezra Merkin took three brief paragraphs last Thursday to notify investors in his Ascot Partners fund that nearly all the $1.8 billion they had given him to invest had instead been entrusted to Bernard L. Madoff, a Wall Street wizard who is now accused of running a huge Ponzi scheme.

Mr. Merkin’s short-and-sweet “Dear Limited Partner” letter, and the bombshell it contained, has investors up in arms because they say it is so at odds with the 54-page offering memorandum they received from Mr. Merkin in October 2006 soliciting their money.

Limited partners in the fund are pondering their legal options, including going to court to freeze other assets held by Mr. Merkin and seeking other emergency relief.

“Certainly, a lot of his investors have good reason to be upset,” said Harry Susman, a lawyer in Texas who was flying to New York on Monday to help a group of investors who had retained him in the matter.

The Ascot Partners fund is just one of what is likely to be many that were decimated in the collapse of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities.

Mr. Susman said the strategies promised in Mr. Merkin’s documents are a far cry from what he apparently did, placing all of the investors’ eggs in Mr. Madoff’s basket and charging a hefty fee for doing so.

He said his clients also recall conversations with Mr. Merkin when Mr. Madoff’s name came up, and Mr. Merkin was silent on the now apparent fact that Mr. Madoff was effectively the man managing their money.

Mr. Susman said his clients are particularly incensed because Mr. Merkin was charging them an annual fee of 1.5 percent of their investments in exchange for his services, which now appear to be little more than turning over the money to another investor altogether.

Mr. Merkin’s fund also had provisions that generally let investors make only annual withdrawals and then only with 45-days notice, a condition that not even Mr. Madoff imposed on those who hired him directly.

“People who went through Merkin, they had to pay for the privilege of being stolen from,” Mr. Susman said.

In Mr. Merkin’s letter, he described the fund as a “victim of this fraud” and noted that he shared his investors’ pain “as one of the largest investors in our fund” and someone who has “suffered major losses from this catastrophe.”

Neither Mr. Merkin nor his lawyers at Schulte Roth & Zabel were available last night to comment on the representations made in the offering memorandum.

Like Mr. Madoff, Mr. Merkin tended to sit on a lot of prominent boards and had the respect of a large swath of sophisticated New Yorkers. As a result, many charities and schools that invested with him are now holding worthless investments and trying to explain to their constituents why the money was lost.

The confidential offering document does contain the usual caveats, noting that the investments are “speculative,” that “there can be no assurance that any of the hoped-for benefits of the foregoing approach will be realized,” and that Mr. Merkin, as the general partner, will be indemnified unless his acts constitute “bad faith, gross negligence, recklessness, fraud or intentional misconduct.”

It also contains a warning to investors on Page 2 that Mr. Merkin had the right to give over assets to other “third-party managers,” who “engage in investment strategies similar to the Partnership’s.”

Later, on Page 24, it warns that such a decision might mean higher fees for investors in Ascot because of the layered structure. And like many funds of this type, it was generally being marketed to investors with a minimum investment of $500,000.

But there is also ample discussion in the document about Mr. Merkin’s investment philosophy and intentions for the fund.

On Page 2, the document outlines a strategy consisting mostly of arbitraging or capitalizing on the differences in price between large-cap stocks and options on those securities. In the right hands, such strategies can present low-risk ways to generate decent returns.

Page 12 also has a passage describing a program “consisting of capital appreciation and income by investing in a diverse portfolio of securities.” The next page notes that Mr. Merkin, as the general partner, “intends, to the extent circumstances permit, to adopt a selective approach in evaluating potential investment situations generally concentrating on relatively fewer transactions that he can follow more closely.”

“Investors who met with Merkin report that oftentimes he would talk about Madoff and what a great person he was and how much he trusted him,” said Mr. Susman. “What strikes them as odd is given that Madoff’s name came up, why wouldn’t he mention ‘Oh by the way, he’s the guy who manages the money.’ ”

We Wuz Robbed said...

http://www.nj.com/business/index.ssf/2008/12/lost_fortunes_list_of_major_pl.html

The following is a list of investors with exposure to Madoff's alleged scheme.

Union NJ-based Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. co-founder Leonard Feinstein: undetermined.

Ira Roth, a New Jersey resident, told the Wall Street Journal his family has about $1 million invested through Madoff's firm.

Irwin Kellner, the chief economist for MarketWatch.com and an economic scholar at Dowling College, invested more than $2 million in an IRA and another investment account with Madoff, according to press reports.

Nine West founder Jerome Fisher is said to have lost $150 million, according to press reports.

Does Sruly Singer know Madoff? said...

http://www.forward.com/articles/14729/

American Jewish Congress may have lost two-thirds of its endowment

Maimonides School in Boston, have also been significantly affected

“It’s an atomic bomb in the world of Jewish philanthropy,” said Mark Charendoff, president of the Jewish Funders Network, an organization that advises wealthy Jewish donors. “There’s going to be fallout from this for years.”

Putz Thief enjoying an expensive Cohiba said...

http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23602414-details/Revealed:+Magic+Madoff%E2%80%99s+family+%E2%80%98piggy+bank%E2%80%99+in+the+heart+of+Mayfair/article.do

They all want to know what happened to their money. Madoff is out on $10 million bail, posted by his wife Ruth, and he was spotted last night in the window of his duplex on Manhattan's East 64th Street, smoking a large cigar. Understandably, his investors are asking how much Madoff squirrelled away for himself.

Here, in Berkeley Street, is the headquarters of the US investment veteran's London arm, Madoff Securities International. Compared with his huge Lipstick Building in midtown Manhattan, 12 Berkeley Street is a modest, discreet address. That's exactly how Madoff likes it. A source told the Standard that this anonymous base in Mayfair is Madoff's "dynastic piggy bank".

He kept around £80 million in cash in the London firm and used it to fund deals to benefit himself, his wife Ruth and sons Mark and Andrew. The Berkeley Street office is a trading operation, which, by the standards of Madoff's fraud, appears to handle modest sums.But by the standards of even wealthy families it is a powerful money-making tool, worked by a hand-picked staff of 28 including top analysts and investment specialists.

If nothing else, he will always be the man who proved Warren Buffet's adage that when the tide goes out, you see who is swimming naked.

Deep Thinker said...

Commenter @ 1:27 a.m.:

I disagree that inappropriate marriages happen because of the molech concept. I think it's because the family who goes ito it is immoral themself. The litmus test to see what a family is truly about, is who they marry thei children into.

The Torah says "A mamzer can not marry into the khal Hashem, but ould mary another mamzer". Along the same lines:

If a family is immoral, it's tzugepast for them to marry another family like themself. Families with histories of criminal behaviors, make mergers into other families with histories of crime.Families with instability and dysfuntionality marry similar families. After all, they believe they are the est parents, ad have the most functioning homes.

Hashem runs the world, and makes sure every family gets what they deserve. Good families who are beig misled he gives signs to wake them up, and hopes they break a shidduch. A shidduch is a lot easier to break off then a marriage. If the family goes through with a marriage "af al pi kain", they are showing who they truly are.

Monsey said...

http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSLF62253520081216?sp=true

In a sign that suspicions are growing that others may have been culpable in the alleged fraud, the auditing firm that Madoff used, Friehling & Horowitz, is now the focus of a criminal probe by the district attorney in Rockland County, New York.

"We are in the very early stages of our investigation," District Attorney Thomas Zugibe said. "Our focus is on whether the independent auditor reports that were prepared by Friehling were fraudulent."

Losers (who don't even know it yet) said...

http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSLF62253520081216

Under U.S. bankruptcy code, investors that pulled money out of a fraudulent fund up to two years before it went under must give their money back, if they knew or should have known the fund was bogus, Winston & Strawn's Marwil said. And state law typically broadens that window to four to six years.

Marwil, who is representing the bankrupt Bayou Group of hedge funds, successfully took back funds from investors that had withdrawn money years before Bayou went under.

"Our view was there were sufficient red flags for any investor to know there was a problem at Bayou. I think a similar argument could be made here," Marwil said.

There were several red flags at Madoff's asset management business, according to forensic accountants, former prosecutors and private investigators.

Among them, Madoff executed trades for the fund through his own firm; many senior people in his firm were relatives, which could create obvious conflicts of interest; as well as the small, little-known auditor, now under investigation.

"You have to wonder why regulatory agencies were asleep at the switch and didn't detect anything," said Bradley Simon, a criminal defense lawyer at law firm Simon & Partners LLP who is not involved in the Madoff case. "It doesn't give a lot of reassurance to investors."

But some argue that the fraud would have been difficult to find if Madoff's sons Mark and Andrew, who worked in their father's business, did not know.

OU recommends group therapy for "sex addiction" said...

http://www.ou.org/index.php/jewish_action/article/46489/

A Practical Guide to Rabbinic Counseling

Shalom Tendler said...

Tell us something we don't know.

What do you think is on my mind when I convene OU-sponsored get togethers?

Dr. Bungalow Putz Neuhoff said...

I am against Ponzi scams of any kind.

And I am against group sex therapy of any kind.

Yisroel Belsky - We truck Drivers kill innocent people said...

Miami, FL - A Broward County judge sentenced Flavio Santisteban a former truck driver to 36 years in prison for causing a fiery crash that resulted in the deaths of four people nearly four years ago.

Santisteban, 37, was convicted in September of four counts of vehicular manslaughter for what happened on Feb. 11, 2005.

East 31st St said...

Neuhoff doesn't really believe the charges against Madoff.

He thinks UOJ made it all up because he surveyed the whole Shimshy Sherer's shul and most people had never heard of the guy until erev Shabbos.

He says that lehoraaye, even Mort Zuckerman told CNBC that he never heard of Madoff until Ezra Merkin said that's who stole his money.

Scott Tulman said...

Bernie Madoff was fine when he got home to East 64th St before Shabbos.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cohiba_(cigar_brand)

I'm headed over there now to shnor one of his Cohiba cigars.

Jacob Ezra Merkin said...

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122939063859509135.html

Merkin Gets Questions on Madoff

By PETER LATTMAN
As investors burned by the alleged scandal surrounding Bernard Madoff look for answers, some are questioning whether the disclosure practices of a money manager who invested with him were adequate.

Zuckerman looking to sue Merkin said...

http://clusterstock.alleyinsider.com/2008/12/gmac-chairman-in-hot-water-over-madoff-investments

Ascot just outsourced its entire stock picking and investing strategy to Madoff (while pocketing a 1.5% management fee), but claimed that Madoff was only a custodian. Ascot claimed to have its own strategy -- the same split-strike nonsense that Madoff talked about -- but obviously it wasn't engaged in doing that itself.

No doubt Merkin already has a lot on his plate with GMAC, but this sounds like big-time trouble, especially since Zuckerman (and no doubt his other clients) has indicated his willingness to sue.

UOJ Agents at work said...

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122938878154208997.html

Consumer watchdogs wielding handheld X-ray guns are testing toys on shelves for unsafe levels of lead and other chemicals, giving retailers -- from Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to mom-and-pop stores -- a case of heartburn this holiday season.

This month, testers with the Center for Environmental Health, a consumer advocacy group in Oakland, Calif., said that Wal-Mart frog-charm jewelry contained levels of lead higher than allowed by California state law. The group informed the California attorney general's office, which then sent a notice of violation last week to Wal-Mart, telling the company to remove the item from its stores, according to Christine Gasparac, a spokeswoman for the attorney general.

Breaking news from the Putz-Elect said...

Obama insiders tell Larry Kudlow that they plan on buying every distressed mortgage with taxpayer dollars.

That's right folks. You have the "privilege" of "spreading your wealth around" to bail out every shmuck who bought a house, knowing he couldn't afford it.

Sick Bastard said...

Fund manager in scandal once boasted about profits

Tuesday December 16, 7:42 am ET

Money manager at center of scandal once advised government on protecting investors from scams


WASHINGTON (AP) -- The money manager accused of duping investors in one of Wall Street's biggest Ponzi schemes once boasted to the Securities and Exchange Commission about how much money he earned and formally advised the U.S. government on ways to protect investors from scam artists.

Now Bernard Madoff stands accused of being one.

The 70-year-old Madoff (MAY-doff), well respected in the investment community after serving as chairman of the Nasdaq Stock Market, was arrested last week in what prosecutors say was a $50 billion scheme to defraud investors, including the world's big banks, the rich and the famous.

Alleged victims include the family charitable foundation for Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J.; a trust tied to real estate magnate Mortimer Zuckerman; and a charity of movie director Steven Spielberg. The Wall Street Journal reported DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. Chief Executive Jeffrey Katzenberg and the foundation of Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel also took hits.

As the scale of the alleged scheme was realized, attention turned quickly to Madoff's connections to Washington regulators responsible for monitoring investment funds like the one Madoff operated. He knew everyone, former SEC chairman Arthur Levitt said in an interview with The Associated Press. Levitt said he did not invest any money with Madoff.

The director for enforcement at the SEC, Linda Thomsen, said the government was working with federal prosecutors and the FBI to understand the case, "to pursue the case we've got, to preserve assets to the extent we were able and to bring everyone who was responsible for the conduct at the Madoff firm. It's justice," she said Monday.

At one SEC hearing in April 2004 -- during the period when Madoff is accused of carrying out his $50 billion fraud -- Madoff joked with then-commission chairman William Donaldson about Madoff's own extraordinary profits and teased that he wasn't inclined to provide any advice that might help his business rivals.

"Our firm has made a fairly decent living as a fast market competing with a slow market," Madoff said, "so I'm not sure it's in our own best interest for everyone to become a fast market." Commissioners laughed openly as Madoff agreed "to take off our selfish hats here and speak for the public good."

As a former Nasdaq chairman, Madoff was an expert sought by Washington regulators who asked for advice on any number of regulatory issues over the years. In 2000, Madoff served on the government's Advisory Committee on Market Information, established to protect investors by ensuring accurate and full public disclosure of information to them.

Financial analysts raised concerns about Madoff's practices repeatedly over the past decade, including one letter to the SEC as early as 1999 that accused Madoff of running a Ponzi scheme, but the agency did not conduct even a routine examination of the investment business until last week, The Washington Post reported on its Web site Monday night.

Questions have been raised in two earlier cases about the SEC's handling of investigations involving influential figures on Wall Street or powerful investment firms.

The agency's inspector general, in a report issued this fall, said there were "serious questions" about the impartiality and fairness of the SEC's insider-trading investigation in 2004 and 2005 of hedge fund Pequot Capital Management. A former SEC attorney who worked on the probe and was fired by the agency told Congress he was blocked by agency superiors when he tried to question John Mack, now chairman of the Morgan Stanley investment house.

The SEC took no enforcement action in the Pequot case. The hedge fund and Mack have denied any wrongdoing.

In another report, the inspector general, H. David Kotz, determined the head of the SEC's Miami office failed to properly enforce securities laws in the investigation of now-defunct Bear Stearns' pricing of complex investments it sold, and found that he shouldn't have closed the inquiry in the summer of 2007 without enforcement action.

Bear Stearns nearly collapsed into bankruptcy in March and was purchased by rival JPMorgan Chase with a $29 billion federal backstop.

Last month, an administrative law judge at the SEC rejected Kotz's conclusions and his recommendation for disciplinary action against Thomsen, the agency's enforcement director, and two other officials in the matters. The judge, Brenda Murray, wasn't acting in her capacity as an administrative law judge but rather as an SEC official asked by the agency's executive director to assess the inspector general's findings.

JTA said...

Yad Sarah, an Israeli volunteer organization that provides services for the disabled and needy, has apparently lost significant funds in the Bernard Madoff fraud scandal, JTA has learned.

According to the organization’s latest 990 tax filing, the organization’s American fundraising outfit, American Friends of Yad Sarah, had $1.5 million invested with J. Ezra Merkin’s Ascot Partners in 2006.

Capitol Hill Yenta said...

Bernie Madoff's niece Shana, was "legal compliance officer" at the the firm.

She is married to a goy named Swanson who was an SEC agent in charge of the investigation of Madoff in the early 1990s.

How's that for a conflict of interest.

Some news sites must have picked up on this by now. I'm going to look it up.

YU insider said...

There is a faction on the YU board that is trying to convince the rest of the boys to go along with filing criminal charges against Ezra Merkin.

Anonymous said...

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1208/16608.html

The lobbying firm Dow Lohnes Government Strategies filed paperwork on Dec. 12, terminating its lobbying contract with Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities. That ended more than 10 years of Madoff lobbying in Washington, in which his investment firm spent more than $400,000 to influence the federal government.

But lobbying is just a piece of Madoff’s influence in Washington. His family has contributed nearly $400,000 to political committees. And his niece, Shana Madoff Swanson, who serves as a compliance attorney at his firm, is married to a former high-ranking Securities and Exchange Commission official, Eric Swanson.

Swanson was the assistant director in the SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations’ market oversight unit in Washington. According to his biography, Swanson “supervised and conducted inspections and examinations that involved a wide range of issues including best execution, order handling, insider trading [and] market manipulation.”

The SEC has come under criticism for not following up on tips that Madoff’s investment returns seemed suspicious. Mr. Swanson left the SEC in 2006. He married Madoff’s niece the next year. He now works at a firm called BATS Exchange, which describes itself as “the third-largest stock exchange” in the United States, behind the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq.

The lobbying effort was just one of the ways Madoff peddled influence in Washington. His brother, Peter, is the senior managing director of Madoff Investment Securities, and he’s serving his second term on the board of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, a lobbying group that represents financial services firms.

Bernard Madoff sat of the board of directors of the Securities Industry Association, an advocacy group that merged with the Bond Market Association in 2006 to form SIFMA. The two Madoff brothers have given $56,000 to the lobbying organization over the past nine years.

“We’re looking at everything based on the unfolding facts and taking this very seriously, as you can imagine,” said SIFMA spokesman Travis Larson.

The Madoffs were also hefty donors to political candidates. In total, the Madoff family has donated more than $380,000 to political candidates, parties and political action committees since 1993, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The giving skewed largely Democratic, although donations were made to several Republicans, including scandal-ridden Rep. Vito J. Fossella (R-N.Y.).

One of the largest recipients of Madoff largess was Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who received $39,000 from the family for his two Senate races. Bernard Madoff has given an additional $100,000 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee since Schumer took its helm in 2005.

Madoff was famous in regulatory circles as the man who gave his name to the “Madoff Exception,” the informal name for a measure that allowed his firm to flout the so-called “uptick rule,” preventing most market participants from short selling stocks whose share price was ticking downward. Only short sales on the uptick were permitted until earlier this year. Short sales are bets in the market that a stock’s value will decline.

Madoff’s Washington lobbying stretches back more than a decade, and began with Lent’s father, former Rep. Norman Lent Jr., a Republican who represented New York’s Nassau County in Congress from 1971 to 1993. Former Rep. Lent began working for Madoff in the mid 1990s, his son said.

The former congressman worked for Madoff through his firm, Lent Scrivner & Roth, which wound down this summer upon the retirement of the elder Lent.

The younger members of the team — including Lent’s former chief of staff, Michael Scrivner, and Peter Leon, a former legislative director to Rep. Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.) — joined Dow Lohnes in August and brought the Madoff account with them. Dow Lohnes first registered to represent Madoff in September.

One focus of the Madoff lobbying effort in Washington over the years has been to obtain taxpayer financing for the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, a New York institution that spotlights the city’s 19th-century immigrant history.

Peter Madoff has long been a financial backer of the museum. The Lower East Side Tenement Museum received roughly $180,000 in taxpayer money in the last appropriations cycle, according to its president, Morris Vogel.

It’s not clear why a wealthy benefactor would hire a lobbyist to secure taxpayer dollars for a favored nonprofit, but Vogel says the museum was happy to have the support. “I accept it as an act of generosity,” Vogel said. “People help in lots of different ways.”

The unfolding scandal surrounding Madoff will clearly have one effect, his lobbyist said. “The upshot you’ll see out of this is a lot more regulation of the securities industry,” Lent said.

Capitol Hill Yenta said...

There is also a Manhattan socialite website that shows Shana Madoff with her goy at a party.

http://www.abcnews.go.com/print?id=6471863

SEC Official Married into Madoff Family

Madoff Boasted of Close SEC Relationship, "My Niece Even Married One"

By BRIAN ROSS and JOSEPH RHEE
Dec. 16, 2008—

A top Securities and Exchange Commission compliance official who worked for the SEC when it found no problems at Bernard Madoff's firm in 2005, later began to date and married Madoff's niece, who was a compliance lawyer for the company.

The failure of the SEC to detect the alleged fraud carried out by Madoff, estimated by Madoff himself at $50 billion, has raised questions about the SEC's performance.

"The Securities and Exchange Commission failed the American people," said Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA).

Since 1992, the SEC has at least twice dismissed concerns about Madoff's firm, following complaints.

At a business roundtable meeting last year, Madoff boasted of his "very close" relationship with a SEC regulator, chuckling as he said, "in fact, my niece even married one."

YU office said...

Ezra Merkin has submitted a letter of resignation for all his roles and duties connected to Yeshiva University and it's affiliates.

Anonymous said...

We are a publicly traded company located in Illinois. We use the services of Orthodox Jewish auditors. With all due respect, can someone please answer these questions which are of grave concern to our ethics commitee:

HOW CAN JEWS LOOK SO RELIGIOUS, YET ACT SO FRAUDULENTLY, HOW DO WE FEEL COMFORTABLE WITH ANY NUMBERS GIVEN BY ORTHODOX AUDITORS?

WHY IS AN ORTHODOX JEWISH ORGANIZATION THE ONLY PEOPLE STANDING BY MR. BLAGOJEVICH, EVERY OTHER RELIGIOUS GROUP AND ILLINOIS HOUSE MEMBER HAVE THROWN HIM UNDER THE BUS FOR BEING SUCH A BLATANT FRAUD. WHY DO JEWS HAVE SUCH LOW ETHICAL STANDARDS?

WHY DO THE RABBIS HAVE NO SAY ABOUT HOW THE FLOCK BEHAVES. WHY ARE THOSE WHO STAND UP AND TRY TO BLOW THE WHISTLE TREATED WORSE THAN THE CRIMINALS THEMSELVES?

DO JEWISH PEOPLE HAVE ETHICAL GUIDELINES AND STANDARDS TO LIVE UP TO, OR IS IT SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST, THOSE WITH THE MOST ASSETS AND CONNECTIONS SURVIVE, AND EVERYONE ELSE FAILS?

We mean no disrespect. We are just very turned off that the ongoing investigation of Governor Blagojevich seems to be turning into another Orthodox Jewish community criminal orgy.

YU said...

http://media.www.yucommentator.com/media/storage/paper652/news/2008/11/25/News/Yu.Endowment.Shaken.By.Madoff.Storm-3579840.shtml

Yeshiva's problems with Mr. Merkin allegedly began well before Ascot collapsed. One board member at Yeshiva related that several trustees and YU President Richard M. Joel have long been upset with Merkin's management of the endowment, citing factors such as disappointing returns as well as a secretive, overbearing leadership style.

Sources were particularly troubled by Merkin's tactic of directing substantial amounts of YU's endowment - in the range of $400 to $700 million - to a fund that he himself managed.

Kenneth Reed, director of research and policy analysis at the National Association of College and University Business Officers, called this tactic "a definite conflict of interest." Mr. Reed explained that endowment investment committees customarily provide guidelines to ensure a healthy degree of diversification, but do not set more specific details for where and how to invest.

Numerous professionals in the hedge fund and endowment world felt there was both an ethical and management problem with the setup at Yeshiva. One declared that it was "not only a major ethical problem" but also felt that it led to a situation where Mr. Merkin became only answerable to himself. "He eliminated all the checks and balances," he said, "that should have secured YU's money."

The UJA-Federation of New York, where Mr. Merkin had formerly served on the board's investment committee, did not lose money with Ascot Capital because a conflict-of-interest policy prevented Mr. Merkin from directing their endowment towards his own funds, according to their recent statement.

Several financial professionals further expressed surprised over Merkin's self-compensation for his work with Yeshiva's endowment funds. One source close to President Joel alleged that Merkin took a full management fee and did not give YU any discount for the size of their investment, which is out of character for most investors in the hundreds of millions of dollars according to financial professionals.

YU board members who expressed such concerns were reportedly ignored or berated by Merkin. They often found it difficult to get information from him. "He can be intimidating, and didn't feel the need to tell everyone what was going on," one source related. "He's a screamer." Another source close to the situation revealed that even President Joel found Merkin difficult to work with, and had searched for tactics to deal with Merkin for months, including adding board trustees who would be more assertive in challenging Merkin's authority.

One hedge fund manager familiar with the situation expressed outrage with Mr. Merkin's behavior. "He didn't seem to diversify at all, and he obviously didn't do enough vetting of Madoff," he said. "If this fund was just a pass-through so less connected investors could get to Madoff, YU could have gone to Madoff directly - he was the treasurer of their board," he emphasized. "For what exactly was Merkin earning his fee from YU here?"

Further, sources alleged that Merkin did not disclose to the board that the Ascot Fund was nearly exclusively invested with Madoff, which would fit with the description of several other investors. The Wall Street Journal quoted Harry Susman of Houston law firm Susman Godfrey LLP, who asserts that "a pattern" emerged among 10 Madoff investors that were not aware the money was going to Madoff. According to The Jewish Week one private investor said that that several years ago he had asked Merkin directly if his investment in Ascot was going into the Madoff fund and was told it was not.

Some investors are exploring legal action against Merkin and Madoff to recover their funds. Mort Zuckerman, whose charity organization has suffered a loss of $30 million, announced that he plans to pursue legal avenues against Merkin, and William Shepard of Shepherd, Smith, Edwards & Kantas LLP told GlobeNewswire that they were exploring "four or five sources of recovery" for those invested in Madoff.

While Yeshiva's legal team has not declared its intent to press charges against Merkin, YU officials were discussing these issues.

Madoff's Ponzi scheme has revealed longer-running problems with the management of YU's endowment. While YU's endowment earned a healthy clip of 10.7% last year, it was far below its peers: according to NACUBO's Endowment Study, of the top 100 endowments, Yeshiva was tied with the University of Nebraska for the lowest return on assets. Mr. Reed of NACUBO said that "scoring seven points below the benchmark is very significant." He said that even if the director had a successful track record in past years, "If I was on the managing committee, I would immediately want to know what's going on."

At the same time, YU officials and financial professionals noted that Mr. Merkin is known to achieve lower peaks in boom years yet higher troughs in down years. In the fiscal year 2006 YU's endowment earned 10.9%, exactly on par with the national average, while in the fiscal year 2005 the average rate was 9.3% and YU earned 14.5%.

Moreover, before the collapse of Ascot Partners, his performance in the bearish market this year was considered positive relative to comparable managers and endowments, and one board member suggested granting additional money to Mr. Merkin's funds.

While Mr. Merkin is reputed to be a well-regarded manager of his own, financial professionals speculated that Mr. Merkin's reputation for earning solid returns in bad years now appear to at least in part derive from his investments with Mr. Madoff, whose supposed gains are now known to be illusory.

While Mr. Merkin's funds initially appeared to be performing well this year, sources say that this performance may not only be impacted be obscured by his holdings in private equity firms - which do not trade publicly and are therefore often difficult to accurately assess. In particular, Mr. Merkin is known to be a significant investor in Cerberus Capital Management, a major private equity firm that privately owns several companies, most prominently Chrysler and GMAC, where Mr. Merkin is the chairman of the board.

One source close to a board member revealed that Yeshiva's endowment invested money in Cerberus. Both Chrysler and GMAC are in danger of bankruptcy, although a proposed swap with GMAC bondholders may allow GMAC to accept help from the Temporary Asset Relief Program.

Still, hedge fund managers told The Commentator that they are wary of Cerberus because the private equity firm can declare what its private companies are worth. "Since [Cerberus'] assets aren't traded on the open market, they have far more leeway in deciding how much their assets are actually worth," one explained. "They can be secretive about their whole process, and no one will know the true value of their holdings."

While Chrysler may receive government bailout money which would increase its value, Daimler announced that they currently value their 19.9% stake in Chrysler at zero, giving one estimate of the value of a minority stake in Chrysler.

While Mr. Merkin has been heavily criticized for his management of Ascot Partners, one Jewish community leader who dealt regularly with Mr. Merkin in the past said that the recent developments shouldn't expunge Mr. Merkin's accomplishments prior to this past Thursday, nor erase the Jewish community's debt of hakarat hatov (gratitude) towards Merkin. "I'm not prepared to forget the tremendous amount of energy, time, thought and creative leadership that Ezra Merkin has given to the Jewish community," he said, although he acknowledged that "in light of what happened, another picture may emerge."

Although YU's endowment has been shaken, President Richard M. Joel adamantly maintains that YU stands on solid financial ground. "Our finances are sound," he declared at YU's annual Hanukkah Dinner, referring to the "800-pound elephant in the room" without mentioning the names of Madoff or Merkin. "We will survive this."

Yeshiva officials also trumpeted the approximately $3.2 million they raised at the dinner, over a million dollars more than the 2007 dinner, and the $125,000 they saved in planning the event. Still, officials acknowledged that given the scope of the projected losses, further cuts will likely be necessary, on top of those recently implemented after the $24 million budget deficit and economic downturn.

At this point, it is unclear how YU plans to respond to the larger issue of managing its endowment. Merkin's resignation leaves YU without its longtime investment committee chairman and devoid of a clear investment strategy to deal with the financial crisis. The two campuses as well as the larger Jewish community are abuzz with rumors regarding the extent of Yeshiva's losses and the potential ramifications. Yet while Yeshiva officials have been seen working around the clock, and have appeared to be scrambling to assess the situation, they do not yet have a statement to offer students, parents and all stakeholders explaining how this will impact Yeshiva University's financial future.

Anonymous said...

I know Ezra Merkin but not in a business setting. He's a really nice guy if he's not managing your money.

Capitol Hill Yenta said...

http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/images/madoff-ask-je.jpg

Here is a snapshot of Bernie Madoff's son Mark sitting with Eric Swanson 2 years ago at an STA panel while he was still an SEC official.

Mark Madoff & Swanson were buddies BEFORE the goy started dating Shana.

WSJ said...

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122938212422208613.html

Madoff's rebbitzen, Ruth, is also being investigated for a role she played in the Ponzi scheme.

Capitol Hill Yenta said...

Also seated with Madoff and Swanson are Robert Colby of the SEC and Richard Wallace of the NASD.

All these bozos should be hauled in for questioning by the FBI and Senate Banking Committee.

SIPC said...

Dec. 16 (Bloomberg) -- Bernard Madoff’s financial records were “utterly unreliable” and will take six months to sort out, said Stephen Harbeck, president of the Securities Investor Protection Corp.

The SIPC, which is liquidating Madoff’s firm, found “two sets of books, in complete disarray,” Harbeck said.

Madoff’s brother, Peter Madoff, was today subpoenaed by Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin, according to a copy of a court filing. Peter Madoff was chief compliance officer at Madoff’s firm, the filing said. Galvin is also seeking documents from Marcia Beth Cohn, chief compliance officer of Cohmad Securities Corp., located at the same address as Madoff’s firm, the filing said.

Galvin became involved after Tremont Group Holdings Inc., a hedge-fund firm owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co., revealed that it had $3.3 billion invested with Madoff. The investment amounted to more than half Tremont’s total assets, a person familiar with the matter said.

Ira Rennert said...

http://www.cnbc.com/id/28195029

Vanity Fair's Vicky Ward tells CNBC that Ezra Merkin's pal from 5th Ave Synagogue, Ira Rennert, was "heavily, heavily invested" with Madoff.

"UOJ" - "The Un-Orthodox Jew" said...

God bless you John Walsh --- We'll never give up!

May you find comfort with the official closure of the Adam Walsh case!

UOJ

Little Birdy on the Upper East Side said...

I would bet that the rest of the 5th Ave shul clique like Revlon & Marvel comics owner Ron Perelman also got sucked in with Ezra.

There are also a bunch of guys in the shul who are employees of Ezra's funds.

boog's sick and getting sicker said...

Letter to Santa leads to man's molestation arrest

10:13 pm ET AP – A Texas man has been arrested after a 9-year-old girl wrote to Santa Claus asking that a relative stop touching her and her sister.

The Monitor of McAllen reports that a man from the town of Pharr was arrested Friday and is in the Hidalgo County jail.

A criminal complaint says the girl turned the letter in at Cesar Chavez Elementary School. Authorities interviewed the girl after a school counselor reported the letter.

The complaint says investigators believe the molestation occurred over a period of four years.

The man is charged with continuous sexual abuse of a young child and could face as many as 99 years in prison if convicted.

AMW said...

AMW - 3:15 PM EST

Adam Walsh Murder Case Officially Closed

Florida law enforcement officials said Tuesday that the investigation into the 1981 murder of Adam Walsh – AMW Host John Walsh’s 6-year-old son – has been officially closed, and that they believe convicted serial killer Ottis Toole to be responsible for the abduction and killing.

“We can now move forward knowing positively who killed our beautiful little boy,” John and Revé Walsh said in a statement. “We, along with our children, Meghan, Callahan and Hayden, pray for the thousands of parents of murdered and still-missing children. We continue to fight for their safety, and to make sure that no child -- especially Adam -- died in vain.”

Anonymous said...

What is it with these 5th Ave Synagogue guys and car companies?

Merkin owns Chrysler & GMAC.

Rennert owned American Motors (Hummer) before selling it to Perelman who sold it to GM.

Bungalow Yenta said...

Boog is sick? Refuah shleimeh.

Larry Present said...

http://www.avvo.com/attorneys/10107-ny-lawrence-present-913602.html

Are there really so many chevrah from 5th Ave synagogue reading UOJ's blog?

Andy Lauer said...

http://www.yu.edu/ogc/index.aspx?id=24290

It's too much these days being the head lawyer at YU. I just want to hide under my bed in Woodmere and let the board fight it out over Ezra Merkin.

Nat Lewin said...

http://www.yu.edu/ogc/index.aspx?id=25110&ekmensel=51b41ad4_2240_2400_btnlink

Believe it or not, between making a putz out of myself in representing Rubashkin, the OU and the Agudah, I squeeze some time in to represent YU too as part of Lauer's legal team.

French Bastard from Le Marais said...

5th Ave Synagogue cannot be so bad. They have a VP with a French sounding name.

http://www.5as.org/Sections/WhosWho.asp

Rabbi Yaakov Kermaier - Rabbi

Rabbi Sol Roth - Rabbi Emeritus

Cantor Joseph Malovany - Cantor

Rabbi Seth Grauer - Assistant Rabbi

Mr. Ira Leon Rennert
Chairman

Mr. J. Ezra Merkin
President

Mr. Jerome Balsam
Vice President

Mr. Jacques Blinbaum
Vice President

Walter J. Molofsky, M.D.
Vice President

Mr. Laurence Rabinowitz
Vice President

Mr. Mitchell Davidson
Secretary

Mr. Marc Schwartzberg
Treasurer

It Should Happen To Margo! said...

Peter Falk suffers from Alzheimer's, daughter says

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) –

"Columbo" star Peter Falk's daughter has filed court documents saying the award-winning actor suffers from Alzheimer's disease and dementia and she should manage his affairs.

In papers filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Friday last week, Catherine Falk said her 81-year-old father can be "deceived into transferring away property" and that the actor should be under her conservatorship to protect his health and assets.

Anonymous said...

Prominent NY law firm to seek bankruptcy

Tuesday December 16, 2:26 pm ET
Receiver for prominent NY law firm to seek bankruptcy protection in wake of charges vs founder


NEW YORK (AP) -- A prominent Manhattan law firm scandalized by charges that its founder masterminded a massive fraud will seek bankruptcy protection, according to a receiver appointed to run the firm.

In a letter to a federal judge, the receiver also predicted founder Marc Dreier will soon seek protection too.

The Securities and Exchange Commission has been notified "of my intention to seek bankruptcy protection, and I believe Mr. Dreier will file a personal petition for bankruptcy in the future," the receiver, Mark Pomerantz, said in the letter dated Dec. 11.

The mid-size firm, Dreier LLP, has represented celebrities including retired football star Michael Strahan and former News Corp. publishing executive Judith Regan.

Dreier's lawyer has said his client would cooperate fully with the court-appointed receiver overseeing his assets.

The 58-year-old defendant was jailed without bail last week after being charged in a criminal complaint and by the SEC in the alleged sale of fraudulent promissory notes.

Prosecutors accused Dreier of posing as if he were peddling heavily discounted investments in a New York City real estate development company because original investors, damaged by the world's financial crisis, were backing out.

The SEC said Dreier created an elaborate charade to convince three hedge funds that the investments were real. One hedge fund sent $13.5 million to Dreier while another wired $100 million, authorities said

Prosecutors have estimated total loses could top $380 million.

The defendant also is charged in Toronto with impersonation in connection with the attempted sale of $45 million of notes to a hedge fund.

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ said...

U.S.News & World Report
6 Things to Know About the Fed Rate Cut
Tuesday December 16, 3:32 pm ET

By Luke Mullins

The Federal Reserve on Tuesday cut its federal funds target rate by more than three-quarters of a percentage point to a range of between 0 and .25 percent. The decision signals that Fed Chief Ben Bernanke is more concerned with the rapidly deteriorating economy--which has been mired in a recession since December of last year--that the prospect of stoking inflation. "Since the Committee's last meeting, labor market conditions have deteriorated, and the available data indicate that consumer spending, business investment, and industrial production have declined," the rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee said in its statement. "Financial markets remain quite strained and credit conditions tight."

Here's how the Fed's actions affect you:

1. Fixed mortgage rates: Today's rate cut will have little if any impact on 30-year fixed mortgage rates, which are determined by factors that operate largely outside of the Federal Open Market Committee's reach, says Keith Gumbinger of HSH Associates. "Any change in the rate has little to do with long-term mortgage rates," he says. But in its statement the Fed said it could expand a recently announced program to buy up debt and mortgage-backed securities from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that has already driven mortgage rates down to a very attractive 5.28 percent, according to HSH Associates. It also reiterated that it was looking at the possibility of buying long-term Treasury bonds. Both of these announcements could work to bring rates even lower.

2. Prime rate loans: The real impact of today's cut will be felt by consumers with loans that are tied to the prime rate, a benchmark rate that typically moves in lock step with the federal funds rate. "The only place where you would see a concrete impact at the consumer level would be things that are directly tied to prime," says Mike Larson, a real estate analyst at Weiss Research. Many home-equity lines of credit and certain credit cards with variable interest rates are tied to prime rate. As such, borrowers with these loans could see their interest rates decline.

3. Home-equity savings: Home-equity loans averaged 5.5 percent in October but dropped to 5.26 percent in November following the Fed's half-point cut. Gumbinger says he expects average rates on home-equity lines of credit to experience similar declines this time around--but not everyone will be able to take advantage of them. That's because many of the interest rates on these loans are already at their minimums, and are contractually prohibited to go any lower. So check the terms of your home-equity loan to see if you are eligible to cash in on the decline.

4. Target vs. effective: When credit markets are functioning normally, Fed rate cuts reduce banks' cost of funding, which allows them to widen profit margins and pass along savings to consumers in the form of lower interest rates. But today's credit conditions have changed all that. Although the Fed's target rate stood at 1 percent before today's cut, such funds were actually being traded in the market at much less than that--just 0.18 percent as of yesterday before the Fed's action. Although the Fed can usually control the effective rate by buying and selling government securities, the credit crisis has eroded its ability to do so. "Any juice that you would get from a funds rate cut in a normally functioning market, you're not really going to get that here," Larson says. "It's not going to lower the banking industry's cost of funds, because the banking industry's cost of funds is already below the target rate anyway." That means that interest rates tied to the federal funds rate won't decline as much as they otherwise would have.

5. Now what? Nariman Behravesh, chief economist at IHS Global Insight, expects rates to go all the way to zero in a matter of weeks. "The Fed has already cut the federal funds rate to 1 percent and is likely to take it all the way to zero by the end of January," Behravesh said in a recent report, issued before today's announcement. "Once the overnight rate is at zero, the Fed may have to engage in 'quantitative easing' [direct purchases of long-term Treasuries]." Even if it doesn't bring rates all the way to zero, the Fed signaled Tuesday that it's not about to push rates higher anytime soon. "The Committee anticipates that weak economic conditions are likely to warrant exceptionally low levels of the federal funds rate for some time," the Fed said in the statement.

6. Expect more unexpectedness. With only less than a quarter of a percentage point left to cut, look for the Fed to get even more creative in its efforts to revive the financial markets. New programs to support different corners of the credit market could certainly be introduced in 2009. "The Federal Reserve will continue to consider ways of using its balance sheet to further support credit markets and economic activity," the Fed said in the statement.

Anonymous said...

(AP) NEW YORK – Investors poring over Bernard Madoff's books have discovered the money manager falsified documents to hide massive losses to investors in a fraud case that could take months to unravel, an official helping to oversee the firm's liquidation said.

Stephen Harbeck, chief executive of nonprofit group Securities Investor Protection Corporation, told The Associated Press that there are different sets of books that investigators are sorting through.

One set keeps track of the losses at Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC's investment advisory arm, while the other is what investors were shown.

"It is obvious that the documents that customers see don't reflect the reality of what the brokerage firm had," said Harbeck, whose organization is helping oversee the liquidation. "We've only scratched the surface."

Jesse HiJackson Jr. said...

CHICAGO – Shortly after his 2002 election, Gov. Rod Blagojevich told Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. he didn't appoint the congressman's wife as lottery director because he had refused him a $25,000 campaign donation, a person familiar with the conversation told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

"Blagojevich went out of his way to say, 'You know I was considering your wife for the lottery job and the $25,000 you didn't give me? That's why she's not getting the job,'" the person said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing federal investigation.

Jackson's name has played prominently ever since Blagojevich was arrested last week on corruption charges, including allegations that he tried to sell or trade President-elect Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat for personal gain.

Jackson has been identified as one of the candidates Blagojevich was considering for the seat, and a criminal complaint said his supporters were willing to raise $1.5 million for the governor if he picked the congressman.

The complaint quotes Blagojevich as saying on federal wiretaps that an associate of the candidate offered to raise money for him if he made the Jackson appointment happen.

TOP 10 PONZI said...

The 10 Nastiest Ponzi Schemes Ever!

Bernard Madoff pulled a shocker last week by revealing that his exclusive investment securities firm was actually the biggest Ponzi scheme in the history of mankind. As the impact of Madoff’s decades-long crime reverberates around the world, it invokes memories of past Ponzi masters, who laid the groundwork for planet-sized schemes like Madoff’s.

Ponzificating–perpetuating a fraud by paying off early investors with new investors’ money–is a concept as old as Indian giving. Honoring everyone involved in the act would be like writing a history of cheating itself. So we narrowed the Ponzi criminals down to the more recent, more nasty ilk, including Madoff himself:

10. The Fraudulent Feminist

(Note: This isn’t Howe. Just an 1880s woman from a catalog.)

In 1880, Boston Ponzian Sarah Howe promised women 8% interest on a “Ladies Deposit.” She said it was only for women, selling an implicit assumption of safety. She took the money and ran.

Nastiness Factor: Bad. Way to break the sisterhood of trust, Sarah.

9. The Haiti Haters >

Ponzi schemes popped up all over Haiti in the early 2000’s. These schemes sold themselves as government-backed “cooperatives.” They ran mainstream-sounding ads, some of which featured Haitian pop stars. As a result, people felt safe investing more than $240 million–60% of Haitian GDP in 2001–into the schemes, which ended up being a massive swindle.

Nastiness Factor: Bad. Haiti is already one of the poorest countries in the world. People there eat mud cakes when times get bad. Cheating them out of their meager savings is sick; alas, it also appears to be systemic.

8. The Scientologist Snake

Earthlink co-founder and Scientology minister Reed Slatkin posed as a brilliant investment advisor for A-list Hollywood residents and corporate bosses. Working out of his garage, Slatkin cheated the rich and famous out of roughly $593 million, creating fake statements referring back to fake brokerage firms to prove his mettle. He fed the Church of Scientology with millions of his winnings. In 2000, the SEC caught wind that Slatkin wasn’t licensed, and busted the scheme.

Nastiness Factor: Mild. Cheating the rich and famous usually results in fewer bankruptcies than, say, misling seniors out of their retirement funds.

7. The Lottery Uprising

When Albania was moving out from behind the Iron Curtain in the mid-1990s, a powerful government and environment of questionable ethics resulted in a financial system dominated by pyramid schemes. The government endorsed various Ponzis, which robbed the majority of the population and netted more than $1 billion in losses. Albanians rioted and overthrew the government.

Nastiness Factor: Deplorable. Don’t government officials realize that endorsing Ponzi schemes might get them overthrown?

6. The Costa Rica Crooks

Three Costa Rican brothers, Enrique, Osvaldo and Freddy Villalobos, defrauded clients–mostly American and Canadian retirees–out of $400 million in a 20-odd-year unregulated loan scheme that started in the late 1980s. They promised interest rates of 3% per month on a minimum investment of $10,000. Villalobos moved money through shell companies before paying investors. Its staying power had to do with the fact that margins were low, the brothers were disciplined, and the outfit just barely skirted past laws.

Nastiness Factor: Mild. The size of the operation gives it a place on this list, but the brothers also had real assets to back them up. It’s Ponzi Lite, but that doesn’t ease the burden on people who lost everything.

5. The Biblical Bilker

In fraud-rich Florida, the Greater Ministries International church used Bible-speak to cheat its flock out of $500 million. Starting in the early 1990s, the church, led by gun-toting minister Gerald Payne, offered worshippers investments in gold coins. Payne then created an investment plan that would “double the ‘blessings’ that people invested” by funneling money towards the church’s fake precious metals investments. According to the Anti-Defamation League,

Payne said that God had modernized the multiplication of the loaves and fishes and asked him to share the secret.


$500 million later, the Feds caught Payne, but most investors never got their money back.

Nastiness Factor: Disgusting. Anyone who uses holy speak to bilk people out of their retirement savings is disgusting, plain and simple.

4. The Boy Band Bandit

Beginning in the late 1980s, Lou Pearlman, Art Garfunkel’s cousin and former manager of ‘N Sync and the Backstreet Boys, offered attractive returns through his FDIC-insured Trans Continental Savings Program. The scheme was neither a savings and loan nor FDIC-approved, but that didn’t stop Pearlman from bilking investors out of nearly $500 million, with which he planned on funding three MTV shows and an entertainment complex.

Nastiness Factor: Deplorable. Pearlman was already a multimillionaire. The fact that he became a compulsive criminal after that means he should sit in a cell for a very long time.

3. The Retiree Plunderer

Mexican resort owner Michael Eugene Kelly schemed retirees and senior citizens out of $428 million. He offered them timeshare investments in Cancun hotels that he called “Universal Leases.” The timeshares came with rental agreements promising investors a nice fixed rate of return. Most of his victims used their retirement savings, thinking they would get solid, low-risk returns. The SEC says that “more than $136 million of the funds invested (came) from IRA accounts.” Kelly, meanwhile, bought himself a private jet, racetrack, and four yachts.

Nastiness Factor: Disgusting. Defrauding senior citizens out of their retirement savings is just about as low as you can go.

2. Madman Madoff

Bernard Madoff’s scam is still unfolding. The facts as we know them now are that Madoff spent decades building the biggest Ponzi scheme in history, bilking nonprofits, famous people, funds, banks, and countless others out of $50 billion.

Nastiness Factor: Deplorable. The man single-handedly destroyed charities, life savings, and other organizations yet to be named. The amount of money involved earns him a spot just below Charles Ponzi himself.

1. The Namesake

The King of Get Rich Quick, Charles Ponzi became a millionaire in six months by promising investors 50% return in 45 days on international postal coupon investments. He earned $15 million, which in 1920s terms was serious money. After Ponzi was caught, investors only received $5 million back.

Nastiness Factor: Mythical. This ancestor of fraudulent men passed his name on to the many schemes that would follow his own. His legacy, and his scheme, are forever memorialized, earning them a unique Nastiness Factor label.

Hey Bernie Don't Drop The Soap! said...

Madoff tries to stay out of jail as probe widens

(Reuters) – Bernard Madoff, the longtime Wall Street executive accused of cheating investors worldwide out of $50 billion, scrambled to find relatives or friends to guarantee his bond on Tuesday and keep him of jail.

In New York, Madoff, who was arrested last week, has not yet fully met the conditions of his $10 million bond, according to court papers. He must find three co-signers to guarantee the bond.

If he fail to meet all the conditions, prosecutors could seek to have the 70-year old Madoff jailed, pending trial. A court hearing was set for Wednesday on bail matters after a Tuesday hearing was postponed.

Anonymous said...

December 16, 2008, 5:27 pm
Mean Street: The Chutzpah of Goldman Sachs

Posted by Deal Journal
You have to admire Lloyd Blankfein’s nerve.

Goldman’s yearly profit is down more than 80%. Its shares are down about 70%. It has been forced to accept billions in capital from Warren Buffett and, of all indignities, Washington D.C.

And Blankfein has just paid the average Goldman employee about $395,000 — nearly eight times what the American median household earns in a year.


But that’s not the nervy thing. It’s that in a year when Wall Street has utterly destroyed itself, Blankfein sees no need to change the Goldman business model.

That’s what even Bernie Madoff might call chutzpah.

First, to the issue of pay. The perception of Goldman’s management and Wall Street analysts will be that Goldman was “tough but fair” on year-end bonuses.

After all, didn’t Goldman’s senior executives forfeit any 2008 bonuses? And didn’t Goldman’s comp expense fall from over $20 billion in 2007 to under $11 billion this year? And won’t bonuses for many at Goldman be down 40% or 50%?

But these bonuses are marked down from 2007, a record year for Wall Street. The “average” Goldman employee will still receive almost $400,000 in comp and benefits. And hundreds of bankers and traders at Goldman will still pocket multi-million dollar pay packages.

This should not be a surprise. Wall Street bankers, shareholders and the analyst community expect high compensation — annus horribilis or not. Washington politicians may carry on, but this is the way the “free market” works.

It was funny to listen to the discussion of bonuses on the investor conference call with Goldman CFO David Viniar. One analyst fretted “are they happy?” when inquiring about the morale of Goldman’s ranks.

And when another analyst opined that a 48% comp to net revenue ratio seemed at the high end given this year’s utter financial destruction, Viniar shot back that Goldman paid a lower ratio than its Wall Street competitors.

Forget that most of these competitors don’t exist anymore. But this is classic Wall Street thinking. Senior execs target comp at close to 50% of net revenues because that’s what’s worked well in the past.

It hasn’t necessarily worked well for shareholders — but that’s another matter.

The 50% comp target is symptomatic of Goldman’s current “no change to the business model” mindset.

Goldman’s view is that it is the victim of rotten markets. And that’s understandable — because the markets have been rotten, especially for any institution forced to mark assets to market and delever a trillion dollar balance sheet at the same time.

Bear, Lehman and Merrill Lynch couldn’t manage it. But Goldman certainly did. In fact, it turned a profit in 2008. Did anybody else?

So as Lloyd Blankfein surveys the new Wall Street. He sees a lot less competition. He sees depression-level markets that will probably rebound from their lows. He sees commercial banks that will be buried in consumer loan and mortgage writedowns.

And he knows that greed can quickly replace the fear and outrage that now grips the minds of investors.

So maybe Blankfein thinks with some justification: Why should I change the business model? Why shouldn’t I pay my people? And how quickly can I repay the loan from the Treasury to get Washington off my back?

Blankfein might just convince the market of Goldman’s business model. Despite the lousy results, Goldman shares closed up 14% today at $76. Funnily enough — that’s the same price as the high for Goldman’s shares on the first day of its IPO in 1999.

Perhaps Blankfein can laugh at the irony, but I’m not sure too many of his shareholders would.

Bernie Madoff said...

Where's Ezra Merkin when you need him?

Hey Ezra, old buddy, old pal, would you mind co-signing on a $10 million bond for an old friend?

NY Law School Sues Ezra Merkin and BDO Seidman said...

http://www.reuters.com/article/bondsNews/idUSN1627986820081216

NEW YORK, Dec 16 (Reuters) - The New York Law School on Tuesday sued Ascot Partners LP investment firm, its general partner J. Ezra Merkin and auditor BDO Seidman LLP over investments with Bernard Madoff, the man accused last week of one of Wall Street's biggest frauds.

The putative class action lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan said the defendants "recklessly or with gross negligence caused and permitted $1.8 billion, virtually the entire investment capital of Ascot" to be handed over to Madoff, the suspected perpetrator of a $50 billion securities fraud.

Boruch said...

We are a publicly traded company located in Illinois. We use the services of Orthodox Jewish auditors. With all due respect, can someone please answer these questions which are of grave concern to our ethics commitee:

HOW CAN JEWS LOOK SO RELIGIOUS, YET ACT SO FRAUDULENTLY, HOW DO WE FEEL COMFORTABLE WITH ANY NUMBERS GIVEN BY ORTHODOX AUDITORS?

WHY IS AN ORTHODOX JEWISH ORGANIZATION THE ONLY PEOPLE STANDING BY MR. BLAGOJEVICH, EVERY OTHER RELIGIOUS GROUP AND ILLINOIS HOUSE MEMBER HAVE THROWN HIM UNDER THE BUS FOR BEING SUCH A BLATANT FRAUD. WHY DO JEWS HAVE SUCH LOW ETHICAL STANDARDS?

WHY DO THE RABBIS HAVE NO SAY ABOUT HOW THE FLOCK BEHAVES. WHY ARE THOSE WHO STAND UP AND TRY TO BLOW THE WHISTLE TREATED WORSE THAN THE CRIMINALS THEMSELVES?

DO JEWISH PEOPLE HAVE ETHICAL GUIDELINES AND STANDARDS TO LIVE UP TO, OR IS IT SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST, THOSE WITH THE MOST ASSETS AND CONNECTIONS SURVIVE, AND EVERYONE ELSE FAILS?

We mean no disrespect. We are just very turned off that the ongoing investigation of Governor Blagojevich seems to be turning into another Orthodox Jewish community criminal orgy.

I don't know who you are. I tell you that your concerns should be concerns; and that you could substitute Orthodox Jewish for any other organized religion depending on the story line. The cliche, tired as it is, about such a small group having such big influence is about not letting the bullies get their way. Jews aren't stupid. They learn from their environment. Daly was not Jewish and he certainly used some strong arm tactics to control Chicago politics. Mayor Richard Sr. would be salivating regarding the political fight ahead and would position himself to score big. Would Mayor Richard be involved in a bribery scandal? Perhaps.

HOW CAN JEWS LOOK SO RELIGIOUS, YET ACT SO FRAUDULENTLY, HOW DO WE FEEL COMFORTABLE WITH ANY NUMBERS GIVEN BY ORTHODOX AUDITORS?

The first part of your question begs a question of every religious or national leader who obfuscates over outright criminal activity. Of course, we all protested by Duvalier in Haiti, the thug in Kosovo, the thug in Romania, etc. The clothes don't make the man as much as the man is made by the clothes. In reality, the furs and suits are no better than overalls. You should be asking your trust question regarding everyone. How do you know your recycling is taken to a plant and not a dump? Why is it that scrutiny must wait for a crisis?

WHY IS AN ORTHODOX JEWISH ORGANIZATION THE ONLY PEOPLE STANDING BY MR. BLAGOJEVICH, EVERY OTHER RELIGIOUS GROUP AND ILLINOIS HOUSE MEMBER HAVE THROWN HIM UNDER THE BUS FOR BEING SUCH A BLATANT FRAUD. WHY DO JEWS HAVE SUCH LOW ETHICAL STANDARDS?

This is a nation of kindness which in the wisdom of the founding fathers determined that all are presumed innocent until proven guilty. We are bombarded with such ethical lapses that we willingly twist this around and arise in ire. What if it were you on this hot seat? Would you be waiting for a bus in the middle of the street? It's heresy to bemoan the protection of the Constitution when if the situation were against us we would demand it's protection.
Ethics are not a religious dogma, they are a foundational idea. Without knowing and practicing right from wrong we are no people. Remember, in the 1960's the same rhetorical question was asked by Southeners who grimaced at Northerners impinging their basic ethical and moral right to hate Blacks.

WHY DO THE RABBIS HAVE NO SAY ABOUT HOW THE FLOCK BEHAVES. WHY ARE THOSE WHO STAND UP AND TRY TO BLOW THE WHISTLE TREATED WORSE THAN THE CRIMINALS THEMSELVES?

Why do priests chant mass in English? Why have traditions be scorned? The inmates have more to say about the running of the asylum then the wardens. We have allowed this. People have requested leaders that pander to the wishes of the majority even if the majority is wrong. Money has become a tool of attrition. Battering and bullying are more efficient methods of controlling the masses. Will a revolt come, yes some day the Messiah will come to lead the revolt against the bullies. Until then, just pray.
Whistleblowers are loathesome at the highest levels of government and the tattletale is always villified. We have denigrated honesty and integrity substituting style for substance. We like cheaters. Do you think that Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens is really suffering? Has the last corked baseball bat been used? Winners are celebrated. When do we ask about winners and how they win; when we are negatively impacted. Until then, it's just sour grapes.

DO JEWISH PEOPLE HAVE ETHICAL GUIDELINES AND STANDARDS TO LIVE UP TO, OR IS IT SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST, THOSE WITH THE MOST ASSETS AND CONNECTIONS SURVIVE, AND EVERYONE ELSE FAILS?

In every land that we have lived in a segment of the mores of that land has been inculcated into our conscious. That includes the good. When times are good, no one notices or no one overly scrutinizes actions of a group or of an individual. When Clinton was impeached did the leaders of his religious affiliation get bombarded with ethics questions? When priests were found to be molesting children; how long was it before an ethical and moral response was issued? Yes, in a word we have ethics. They are codified and learned. The practice of observant Judaism is an ongoing continous process. The growth in that practice requires a reasonable effort. Will we have those that cut corners to get to the top - as with any other group, yes.

No offense from any observant Jew would be taken by your questions. They deserve an open and honest debate. Thank you.