|Matter of Aish Hatorah N.Y. Inc. v Fetman|
|2014 NY Slip Op 51430(U)|
|Decided on September 29, 2014|
|Supreme Court, Kings County|
|Published by New York State Law Reporting Bureau pursuant to Judiciary Law § 431.|
|This opinion is uncorrected and will not be published in the printed Official Reports.|
Decided on September 29, 2014
Supreme Court, Kings County
In the Matter of the Application of Aish Hatorah New York, Inc., Petitioner, For An Order Pursuant To Article 75 of the CPLR Confirming an Arbitration Award
Jacob Fetman a/k/a Yaakov Fetman, Respondent.
Petitioner Aish Hatorah New York, Inc. (Aish) moves for an order: (1) pursuant to CPLR 7510, confirming the award of the arbitrator; (2) pursuant to CPLR 7514, directing that judgment be entered on the award; and (3) restraining respondent from selling, transferring, or otherwise interfering with or disposing of certain properties in which he, his [*2]agents and/or assigns, has an interest.
Respondent Jacob Fetman cross moves for an order: (1) denying the petition and vacating the award; and (2) granting respondent an evidentiary hearing and leave to serve certain discovery devices on petitioner, Rabbi Yitz Greenman, Arbitrator Rabbi Dovid Cohen, and Victor Lipnitsky [FN1] .
Non-party Merkaz, the Center, Inc., (Merkaz), moves separately for an order: (1) pursuant to CPLR 602 (a) consolidating the instant matter with a pending case captioned, Merkaz, the Center, Inc., v Aish Hatorah (Index No. 3432/2014), or in the alternative, (2) pursuant to CPLR 1012(a), allowing Merkaz to intervene in these proceedings; (3) directing Aish to return certain funds; and (4) pursuant to CPLR 6301, restraining defendants from disposing and or transferring certain funds and properties.
At issue in this special proceeding is a religious arbitration, known as Beis Din, that was conducted by Rabbi Dovid Cohen between Aish, a New York non-profit corporation, and Jacob Fetman, who was Aish's chief financial officer for 17 years. Four arbitration sessions were conducted between October 13 and December 9, 2013.
Aish asserts that Aish and Fetman initially agreed to arbitrate two
issues: (1) relating to whether Fetman should bear personal responsibility for improperly entering into a lease extension for a property, occupied by Aish, without authority from Aish's executive director, Rabbi Yitz Greenman, and (2) relating to Fetman's liability to Aish for making unauthorized loans from Aish (April 25, 2014 Affirmation of Greenman ¶ 16). It appears to be undisputed that it was respondent Fetman who initially contacted Rabbi Cohen to arbitrate the parties' dispute. At the first session of the arbitration, held October 13, 2013, Fetman signed an agreement to arbitrate the dispute before Rabbi Cohen (Greenman Aff. ¶ 15).[FN2] According to Rabbi Greenman, Fetman, while testifying before Rabbi Cohen about loans he had made using Aish's funds, admitted to creating and controlling secret bank accounts held in Aish's name (Greenman Aff. ¶ 18), prompting the need to address an expanded "dispute". Thus, on October 22, 2013, prior to proceeding with the second session, the parties signed a second agreement to arbitrate.[FN3] Both Rabbi Greenman and Stuart Schabes, an attorney who [*3]represented Aish at the second session and the subsequent sessions before Rabbi Cohen, assert that, during the second session, Fetman admitted that he had misappropriated or stolen Aish's funds (Greenman Aff. ¶ 33; Schabes Aff. ¶¶ 9-10). This is consistent with Rabbi Cohen's Award of December 17, 2013 which is premised on Fetman's admission to having "stolen" money from plaintiff. Schabes states that, following this admission, Rabbi Cohen explained to Fetman that under Jewish law, in light of Aish having established that funds in Fetman's possession were tainted by theft, the burden shifted to Fetman to show that the remainder of the funds in his possession had not been stolen (Schabes Aff. ¶ 10).