Sunday, January 30, 2005

Organized crime and murder in the Jewish Bukharian community


At 7:58 PM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

RUTH BASHINSKY, MICHELE McPHEE and TRACY CONNOR DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS With Warren Woodberry Jr., Scott Shifrel, Thomas Zambito, and Greg B. Smith
New York Daily News
May 22, 2004

Just hours before he was executed, jeweler Eduard Nektalov got a mysterious call that his family and police believe is the key to his slaying, the Daily News has learned.

The caller demanded that Nektalov, 46, use his influence to free a Queens man jailed for allegedly shooting his cousin in the groin last December, relatives said.

Nektalov was asked to persuade his cousin to drop the charges, but he refused - and his loved ones are certain that's why he was gunned down as he left his Diamond District store Thursday.

A police official confirmed the family's account but added another detail: The night he was killed, Nektalov broke from routine and left Roman Jewelers without his bodyguard, walking to his Bentley unprotected.

"We think that's very odd," the official said, adding that investigators are trying to determine whether Nektalov had made arrangements to meet with the caller.

Police are focusing on the call as a motive, but they haven't ruled out a link to a federal indictment accusing Nektalov and his father of money laundering - or possible ties to Russian organized crime.

"My son was caught in the middle," the father, Roman Nektalov, told The News, his voice shaking with grief. "Our Bukharian boy is not a gangster."

Eduard Nektalov was a big-shot power broker in New York's community of Bukharian Jewish immigrants.

"If there are any problems here, we don't go to the courts; we don't got to the cops," said co-worker Arkady Kataev. "We go straight to him and his dad and they take care of it. They make it go away."

That's exactly what the man on the phone Thursday wanted him to do.

The subject of the call was a shooting in Rego Park that put Eduard Nektalov's cousin, Alix Pinhasov, in the hospital and put the alleged gunman, Simon Samandarov, on Rikers Island.

The two men had a beef - possibly over money or a dispute at a bar - that exploded in violence Dec. 17, when Samandarov and his cronies abducted Pinhasov off the street, according to the criminal complaint.

"You are a dead man," Samandarov allegedly told Pinhasov before shooting him with a .22-caliber handgun.

Samandarov and his buddies were nabbed. The other two cut deals, but Samandarov remains jailed on $1 million bail, facing an attempted murder rap.

The man who phoned Eduard Nektalov "assumed he would have clout with the cousin that was shot," said the murdered jeweler's brother, Avi. "The gentleman who called him yesterday asked him to drop the charges."

But Eduard Nektalov rebuffed the caller.

"My brother said he was not a judge," Avi Nektalov said. "After the conversation, my brother went along with his business, closed down the shop, went to his car - and that's when he was gunned down."

Samandarov's lawyer, John Russo, said he knew nothing about a call or any connection between his client and Eduard Nektalov.

"As far as I know, my client is a tow truck operator with a wife and two kids," he said. "He's a good Jewish boy."

Detectives are still following another thread in the probe - last year's indictment of the Nektalovs and nine other jewelers, accused of helping drug dealers launder money by forging gold into objects that could be easily smuggled to Colombia.

With a July trial looming, "There is a possibility someone thought he was talking or was going to talk," the police official said.

But Eduard Nektalov's lawyer, Christopher Chang, insisted his client was not cooperating with prosecutors and was "confident of gaining complete exoneration" at trial.

Meanwhile, the rubout was the subject of debate in a Manhattan courtroom yesterday where another jeweler snared in the money laundering sting is on trial.

The lawyer for defendant Edwin Fernandez asked for a mistrial, arguing news of Eduard Nektalov's death could taint the proceedings. The motion was denied.

Caption: MICHAEL ALBANS DAILY NEWS Undated photo of jeweler Eduard Nektalov, 46, who was gunned down shortly after leaving his Diamond District store, Roman Jewelers (inset l.), on Thursday evening.

New York Daily News
May 23, 2004

A wallet found on a dead man's body has emerged as an intriguing new link between the execution of a Diamond District merchant last week and the shooting of his cousin last year.

After jeweler Eduard Nektalov, 46, was gunned down in midtown Thursday, police discovered he was carrying a billfold that belonged to his wounded cousin, Alix Pinhasov, 31, a law enforcement source said yesterday.

Just hours before he was murdered, Nektalov got a phone call from a mystery man who wanted him to persuade Pinhasov to drop charges against the suspect accused of shooting him in December.

One theory of why Nektalov had the wallet is that his killer gave it to him before pumping three bullets into his head and back.

"It's a possibility," the law enforcement source said.

Police also are eying two other potential motives in the slaying: a money-laundering case against Nektalov and his father and possible ties to Russian organized crime.

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown confirmed the NYPD has contacted his office about the Pinhasov shooting for any light it can shed on Nektalov's death.

Pinhasov sounded shaken last night when asked about the wallet and his cousin's murder.

"I can't talk," he said. "I'm very upset."

A beef between Pinhasov and an acquaintance, Simon Samandarov, sparked the Dec. 17 shooting in Forest Hills, Queens, according to court documents.

Samandarov, who allegedly abducted Pinhasov off the street and shot him in the groin, is currently being held on $1 million bail.

At the time of the incident, investigators speculated the shooting might be tied to the Russian mob. Both Pinhasov and Samandarov are Bukharian Jews from former Soviet republics in central Asia.

Nektalov was the unofficial mayor of the tight-knit Bukharian community in New York.

In a weird twist the day before he was killed, Nektalov visited the hospital bed of another Bukharian crime victim, 21-year-old Demitri Malayaev, who had been stabbed by a deranged man in Greeley Square.

Nektalov's family said some 5,000 people, including an Israeli general, are expected at his funeral this morning in Forest Hills.

Caption: Eduard Nektalov

Shooting Victim Recounts Night of Drinks and Disputes
January 27, 2005

A former jeweler took the witness stand yesterday to tell the story behind a shooting in Queens in December 2003 that left him wounded - just months before his cousin, a diamond district merchant, was gunned down on a crowded Manhattan street.

The former jeweler, Alik Pinhasov, recounted the 2003 shooting, which followed a dispute between members of a close-knit community in Forest Hills, in State Supreme Court in Queens as testimony began in the trial of Simon Samandarov, 30, who is charged with attempted murder.

The case has links to the killing of the jewelry merchant, Eduard Nektalov, 46, who was shot in the back of the head on a crowded street on May 20 after leaving his Manhattan store. It also provides a window into the community of roughly 50,000 religiously observant Bukharan Jews living in and around Forest Hills and Kew Gardens.

Prosecutors say Mr. Samandarov shot Mr. Pinhasov, 32. In his testimony, Mr. Pinhasov told the jury that he was a cousin of Mr. Nektalov.

The brazen shooting of Mr. Nektalov made headlines because it occurred on a crowded city street and because he had been set to testify in an international money-laundering case. Family members said at the time that Mr. Pinhasov's wallet had been found in the dead jeweler's pocket. They also said that the jeweler had received a phone call before he was killed asking him to persuade his cousin to drop the charges against Mr. Samandarov.

Mr. Pinhasov, raised in Uzbekistan, came to New York in 1998 and settled in Queens among others from Uzbekistan, in Central Asia.

Wringing his hands and speaking in a hushed voice through a Russian interpreter, he testified that on Dec. 17, 2003, he dined at an Uzbek kosher restaurant in Queens with three other men, all Bukharans: another cousin, Boris Pinhasov, 34, and two of the cousin's friends, Mr. Samandarov and Eduard Davydov, 38.

After finishing a bottle of vodka and a bottle of Cognac, the men began quarreling and left in a car to look for cigarettes. Later, Alik Pinhasov said, the men tried pushing him into the car. Nervous, he called his wife to warn her to call police, he said, but spoke to her in Hebrew so the men would not understand.

Alik Pinhasov said he tried to break up a fight between Mr. Samandarov and Boris in the backseat of the car, but was thrown to the street. Then, he said, Mr. Samandarov pulled out a gun and took aim. Mr. Pinhasov said he tried to run but was shot in the back and in the buttock.

"It felt like someone pouring hot metal on my back, because I used to work in the gold business," he said, adding that as he lay in the street, Boris cursed at him and told him "that I didn't pass the test, that I'm a dirty cop." Boris then said, "Get him up and get him into the car before the police arrive," he testified.

Mr. Samandarov, who faces an attempted murder charge and other charges, could face 25 years or more in jail if convicted. A large man with a powerlifter's build, he smiled and shook his head while seated at the defense table during the testimony.

Outside court, his lawyer, John L. Russo, said Mr. Samandarov did not shoot Mr. Pinhasov and added, "There's a lot more here than meets the eye."

At 12:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Something to look into:

"… Established by a voluntary organization founded by haredi Jews, in the last few decades Bikur Holim [hospital] was dominated by the Porush family and badly and wastefully run by multitudes of administrators. Finally, in November 2003, debts of NIS 3 million per month led to the appointment of an official receiver, and an order for putting the hospital into temporary receivership was issued."

Could this be the Rabbi Porush of Knesset fame?


At 4:40 AM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

>Could this be the Rabbi Porush of Knesset fame?

Yes, former MK Rabbi Menahem Porush.

Every few years the government has to bail them out.

by Judy Siegel
July 28, 1989
The Jerusalem Post

Finance Minister Shimon Peres promised this week to remove the Income Tax Authority's lien on the bank accounts of Bikur Holim Hospital and to allow it to pay its debts at the rate of NIS 250,000 a month.

Hospital administrator Yosef Cohen said he was relieved to hear that Peres had made the promise to Agudat Yisrael MK Rabbi Menahem Porush. The independent hospital, the oldest in the city and located near haredi neighbourhoods, has been embroiled in a fight with the tax authority for several years. The authority put a lien on the hospital bank accounts in January, removing it for a few days at a time to allow salaries to be paid.

The hospital has said it owes only NIS 3 million for workers' tax deductions not transferred to the Treasury, and that the amount swelled to more than NIS 30 million on account of fines, linkage and interest.

The Health Ministry has used the hospital's debt as grounds for advocating the merger of Bikur Holim with Shaare Zedek Hospital - a position that Treasury officials had supported as an efficiency measure.

The Knesset Labour and Social Affairs Committee, headed by MK Ora Namir, visited both hospitals this week, and many members declared at Bikur Holim that "with such a fine hospital, it is unthinkable to close the downtown hospital and merge it with Shaare Zedek."

Administrators at Shaare Zedek favour a merger, but Bikur Holim officials believe the debt arrangement and the Knesset committee's backing will kill the idea.

October 30, 1991
The Jerusalem Post

Prime Minister Shamir personally ordered the Finance Ministry to transfer NIS 13 million in special allocations to the Bais Ya'acov Girls' Seminary and Bikur Holim Hospital, sources in the Finance Ministry and the Aguda party said yesterday.

Shamir gave the order, in writing, under pressure from deputy Labor Minister Menahem Porush, the sources indicated.

The NIS 13m. is intended to cover the institutions' tax debts.

The Knesset finance committee yesterday approved the NIS 3m. allocation for Bais Ya'acov, but the NIS 10m. for Bikur Holim has not yet been approved.

Knesset finance committee member Avraham Burg (Labor) denounced the decision, warning that it could serve as a dangerous precedent for other institutions that have failed to pay their taxes.

"Bais Ya'acov has the dubious honor of joining the list of those institutions who run to the government to cover their debts - and cover up their inability to run the administrative side of their institutions."

Aguda activists admitted yesterday that there was no real justification for these institutions to receive funding, while similar institutions do not receive funding.

"Certainly, those institutions that are well connected to those in power receive funding, while those who are not well connected do not receive funding. That's just the way things are," said one Aguda activist.

Hospitals getting NIS 100m., but Dahan says it will last a week
Bikur Holim
August 29, 2001
The Jerusalem Post

Treasury officials finally agreed early yesterday morning to transfer immediately NIS 100 million to government hospitals to pay their debts to suppliers.

However, Health Minister Nissim Dahan said the money would provide relief for less than a week, as new supplies must be ordered, and the health system's major financing problems continue to loom.

The state-owned hospitals, which on Sunday asked that treatment be sought there only in emergencies, claim to have a NIS 900 million deficit, while heads of the four public health funds say the health system suffers from a NIS 2 billion deficit.

Yesterday morning, Finance Minister Silvan Shalom accompanied Dahan on a whirlwind tour of three hospitals - Ichilov in Tel Aviv, Wolfson in Holon, and Bikur Holim in Jerusalem. Afterwards, the two ministers met at Bikur Holim with the heads of Jerusalem's four major public hospitals to hear their appeals for help in solving their own financial problems.

During the meeting, Hadassah Medical Organization director- general Prof. Shlomo Mor-Yosef, Shaare Zedek Hospital director- general Prof. Jonathan Halevy, and Bikur Holim medical director Prof. Shlomo Stern all asked to abolish the 4 percent employers' tax (from which government hospitals are exempt); to raise the per diem hospitalization rate (which falls 3 percent behind actual costs); to revise the "capping" formula that sets limits on health fund compensation to hospitals beyond a set maximum of services provided; and to force the health funds to pay their debts to hospitals on time and in full.

Shalom said that negotiations over more funds for the health system had become an exasperating annual ritual. "After the budget is sewn up," he said, "experts from the two ministries will have to delve into the elementary problems of the health system. It needs basic reform and must be streamlined." The health funds, he added, have "no incentive to become more efficient." Shalom said that Dahan, who "must be a lobbyist for the health system," understands economic constraints, since he was previously a deputy finance minister.

Under the agreement that released the NIS 100m. for the hospitals, the Treasury insisted that the Sarel company, a public body that purchases medications and disposable equipment for all the state hospitals, will transfer to the hospitals any of its remaining profits, and that that money be deducted from the advance for intermediate funding of hospital debts to suppliers. A committee will also be set up to find ways to purchase hospital supplies at lower cost.

Shalom also praised Jerusalem's public hospitals - owned and operated by voluntary organizations that depend on foreign contributions for development - as a "suitable model" for government hospitals, which should be run on an economic basis.

Mor-Yosef told the ministers that since the intifada began, his two university hospitals were receiving significantly fewer patients from outside the capital. Shalom asked, "You say the hospitals are not compensated enough in per-diem fees, and then you say you want more patients. Do you want more patients or fewer?" Mor-Yosef and Halevy explained that accident or terror victims who require lengthy, expensive treatment cost the hospitals money, while visits to outpatient clinics by people outside Jerusalem bring in money.

Bikur Holim officials, among them former MK Menahem Porush, said that the health funds sometimes delay payment of tens of millions of shekels for services over a period of seven months, forcing the hospital to take loans. "When we ask for the money, they tell us to pressure the health minister to pressure the finance minister," Porush said.

Mor-Yosef and Halevy noted that their hospitals were hard-pressed to supply bulletproof buses to safely transport staff living in the outlying Jerusalem neighborhoods and the settlements.

Halevy said that while overseas donors are happy to contribute to the building of new facilities, "they are unwilling to cover ongoing hospital expenses."

The four health funds yesterday sent a furious letter to Shalom after his hospital tour denouncing his statement that the health funds have "no incentive" to become efficient... and to transfer their money" to the hospitals. The health fund directors demanded an urgent meeting with the finance minister "anytime, anywhere" to explain how the NIS 2 billion health system deficit came about.

Meanwhile, Gershom Leider, the director-general of Netanya's Laniado Hospital, which has the same voluntary status as the four Jerusalem hospitals, said that if Dahan granted it the status of a government hospital, with the same budget and obligations, "we would have no further demands. We promise a balanced budget and no medication shortages. Patients will not be hostages in the hands of the government because we never strike."

Photo; Caption: Finance Minister Silvan Shalom and Health Minister Nissim Dahan greet a patient wounded by Palestinian gunfire on Gilo at Jerusalem's Bikur Holim Hospital yesterday during a tour of public hospitals.

Bikur Holim Hospital to go into receivership
November 4, 2003
The Jerusalem Post

Jerusalem's Bikur Holim Hospital has been put into temporary receivership by the Jerusalem District Court due to serious deficits, but the Health Ministry intends to keep it going with an immediate infusion of NIS 10 million and reorganization.

In the meantime, the 170-year-old hospital, owned by a haredi voluntary organization, will have to undergo a thorough cleaning, and all meals will be provided until further notice by outside caterers instead of its kitchens. This was decided on Monday after a short visit by district health officer personnel who took samples in the kitchens and elsewhere.

The ministry said it viewed Bikur Holim as a vital institution as the only remaining hospital in the center of Jerusalem, which has been the site of many terror attacks. Located on the edge of a haredi neighborhood, the hospital particularly serves this community; its obstetrics and cardiology departments are its most prominent. During the next few days and weeks, the Official State Receiver will decide who will run the hospital administratively and medically. At present, nonagenarian former MK Menahem Porush is chairman of the board, while the administrative director is Moshe Cohen and the medical director Prof. Shlomo Stern.

The hospital was put into receivership by District Court Judge Yossi Shapiro on Friday. Bikur Holim owes millions in back debts to the income-tax authorities after deducting taxes from the paychecks of its nearly 700 workers but not transferring the money to the authorities. The various unions have gone to court over periodic delayed payment of wages and complain that the hospital lacks vital equipment.

Health Ministry spokesman Robbie Steinberg said that Minister Dan Naveh was upset by the internal leak of information to newspapers about microbiological tests conducted on Sunday; it was leaked to at least one reporter even before officials were able to discuss it. Steinberg said the ministry is preparing to take serious action to prevent this and many previous leaks from ministry officials. Steinberg declined to release any information about the tests or to allow senior ministry officials to be interviewed about the hospital, arguing that court action and the receivership are still pending.

"We will open all our books and accounts to the receiver," Bikur Holim spokesman Alex Farkash said. "We have spent millions of dollars to improve infrastructure and made repairs to correct previous shortcomings. We believe that our donors regard helping the hospital as a challenge and will be even more determined to help Bikur Holim."

Bikur Holim is the second Jerusalem hospital to be put into receivership in the last few years. The no-less- veteran Misgav Ladach Hospital, which was involved in financial scandals that were never investigated by the police, was sold to Kupat Holim Meuhedet and turned into a clinic facility; it was never restored to its status as a prestigious obstetrics and gynecology hospital that practiced natural childbirth techniques. Its end in this role has reduced the number of obstetrics beds in the city and channeled its patients to the two Hadassah-University Hospitals and Shaare Zedek Medical Center.


Jan. 27, 2005
Bikur Holim's critical condition

Bikur Holim. The Hospital serves a client base of 100,000 people downtown.
Photo: Ariel Jerozolimski

There have been two kinds of hospitals in western Jerusalem - those that are well run and have a cadre of foreign donors who cover their needs for development and expansion, and those that have been amateurishly and even negligently managed, with minimal outside support.

In the first category are the Hadassah Medical Organization's two Hadassah University Medical Centers (in Ein Kerem and on Mount Scopus) and Shaare Zedek Medical Center. In the second category were the two oldest Jewish-founded hospitals, Misgav Ladach and the even more venerable 137-year-old Bikur Holim Hospital.

Misgav Ladach is no longer the general hospital in the Old City, and no longer the obstetrics and gynecology hospital it was in its former cramped quarters in Katamon. Whatever remains of Misgav Ladach has since been sold to Kupat Holim Meuhedet and turned into a day surgery and clinic facility on Rehov Hizkiyahu Hamelech.

As for Bikur Holim, which also first opened in the Old City, it remains splayed on two sides of Strauss Street in the center of town, with management in a partially renovated building on the Street of the Prophets. It serves a population base of 100,000 people in downtown.

Established by a voluntary organization founded by haredi Jews, in the last few decades Bikur Holim was dominated by the Porush family and badly and wastefully run by multitudes of administrators. Finally, in November 2003, debts of NIS 3 million per month led to the appointment of an official receiver, and an order for putting the hospital into temporary receivership was issued.

Initially, Dr. Yitzhak Zeidis of Rambam Medical Center was lent to run it, but after a number of months, he returned to Haifa and was replaced by a non-physician, Bari Bar-Zion, a lawyer and former senior staffer of the Finance Ministry; the Treasury had a financial interest, as some of the debts included workers' income tax deducted from their salaries but not sent to the Income Tax Authority.

Bikur Holim, whose clientele base is haredi Jews living in and near the neighborhood of northern Jerusalem, has no large campus with the possibility of expansion - but only the ability to renovate and improve services. It has treated countless patients in its emergency room, most notably victims of terror attacks in the city center nearby. It also has a well-developed and highly skilled obstetrics department, in recognition of the special needs of the haredi community.

Thanks to years of support from the Heiden family of Belgium, the hospital greatly developed its cardiology department under the leadership of heart specialist and then-medical director Prof. Shlomo Stern. Although smaller and less esthetic than its counterparts in Shaare Zedek and Hadassah, its cardiology facilities have an excellent reputation and credible results. It also has an internal medicine department (including a unit for treating diabetic sores on limbs); surgery, urology, plastic surgery, an orthopedics service, otolaryngology, pediatrics, gynecology, pediatrics and a neonatal unit (including intensive care).

Without these services, pressure on the two Hadassah hospitals and Shaare Zedek, which would have to fill the gap, would be tremendous. As is, Hadassah in Ein Kerem is building a three-story addition to its Mother and Child Center, and new mothers often lie in beds in the halls due to overcrowding. And internal medicine wards in all the hospitals, including Bikur Holim, are jam packed, especially in the winter season.

During the past few months, the number of operations at Bikur Holim has jumped by 24 percent and the number of deliveries in obstetrics by 41 percent. The number of patients admitted to the emergency room sky-rocketed by 62 percent and hospital income by 19 percent.

But despite a growing demand for its medical services, Bikur Holim still faces an existential threat. Because the hospital is not government backed, nor owned by one of the health services such as Clalit or Meuchedet, it has had no one to bail them out and pay staff salaries, running and development costs and pensions for its retired employees.

So far the hospital has accumulated a debt of NIS 200 million.

Half of this is due to the NIS 600,000 in monthly payments to 200 pensioners. If the hospital did not have to pay pensions out of its budget, "our financial situation would today be completely different," Bar-Zion says. Without the government to cover the cost of pensions, hospital officials said it would probably be impossible to cover salaries, payments to suppliers, and transfers of pensions and other deductions. The hospital also has no credit line, so it cannot go into deficit.

Bar-Zion has implemented over the last months a painful efficiency program that cut salaries, forced the dismissal or early retirement of many employees - and induced numerous, highly respected doctors to seek refuge at other hospitals or health funds in Jerusalem or elsewhere. But now the Treasury insists he dismiss five more employees.

"That's where I draw the line," he told Health Minister Dan Naveh on a recent "emergency visit" to the hospital. "We can't provide adequate services without them." The hospital director added that Bikur Holim was also burdened by the recent rise in malpractice insurance premiums, which was equal to the savings resulting from the dismissal of 40 employees.

Attempts to sell the hospital to entrepreneurs who would want to run it as a medical center have so far not succeeded. However, like vultures viewing a wounded animal from the skies, real estate interests are keen on closing the hospital down and selling the property to build homes, stores or offices, even though at least some of the hospital facilities are included on the list of preserved historical buildings.

For their part, the Treasury has delayed the transfer of NIS 1.2 million to Bikur Holim that the Knesset Finance Committee already approved. No reason has been stated for the delay.

Naveh has pledged to do his "utmost" to obtain state aid for ensuring the continued functioning of the hospital. He promised to meet with the hospital receiver and Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, but the Health Ministry has not disclosed what, if any, actions have been taken.

Accompanying Naveh on his visit to the emergency room and overcrowded internal medicine department was Israel Medical Association chairman Dr. Yoram Blachar, who said he was worried about the future of the hospital's 640 staffers, including its 130 physicians. In a PowerPoint computer presentation, Blachar said that a significant increase in obstetrics deliveries and visits to its outpatient clinics and emergency room showed that "the public's faith in Bikur Holim has been restored."

But he worried that the largest health fund, Clalit Health Services, would carry out its threats to stop referring its members to Bikur Holim outpatient clinics and inpatient beds. (Until now Clalit had a written contract with the hospital that they would refer clients to Bikur Holim. The contract is about to expire, and the hospital fears that Clalit will choose to refer patients to their own in-house services instead.)

Government coverage of pension costs, along with the new professional management, can save Bikur Holim, concluded Blachar. "It's on its way back from disaster, and it must continue to exist. The Knesset and the government must ensure its continuing function for the public good."

At 4:49 AM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

Police: Indict Porush for fraud, breach of trust
Ariel Jerozolimski/The Jerusalem Post
July 26, 2000
The Jerusalem Post

Police have recommended to the State Attorney's Office that United Torah Judaism MK Meir Porush be indicted for fraud, breach of trust and violations of privacy laws during the period he was deputy housing minister. .

Police suspect that Porush, from 1995 to 1999, compiled a list of hundreds of people who had received assistance from the ministry. During last year's election campaign, he allegedly turned it over to his political adviser, instructing him to contact everyone on the list to solicit support for UTJ. Some were asked to turn their homes into their neighborhood's party campaign headquarters.

Hundreds of letters signed by Porush were sent to those on the list in April 1999, police said.

Porush was last questioned under caution by the fraud squad on June 4.

Photo; Caption: United Torah Judaism MK Meir Porush

Cabinet withdraws support for 'Berger law'
July 2, 2001
The Jerusalem Post

By a vote of 18 to 5, the cabinet yesterday voted against supporting the so-called "Berger law," a bill proposed by MK Meir Porush (United Torah Judaism) and endorsed by the Ministerial Committee on Legislation that would circumvent a US extradition request for millionaire Chaim Berger.

Justice Minister Meir Sheetrit had filed an appeal last week to the cabinet against the committee's decision to support the bill, which would make it impossible to extradite someone over the age of 70 who has Israeli citizenship.

Berger, 75, is fighting extradition to face charges in the New Square yeshiva fraud case. He fled to Israel just before US authorities issued a warrant for his arrest on charges of fraud and forging documents.

According to the US, Berger and several other members of the New Square, New York, hassidic community bilked the government out of millions of dollars from various assistance programs.

Sheetrit, along with Attorney-General Elyakim Rubinstein, spoke forcefully against the bill, with Sheetrit saying that enacting it would harm Israel's legal ties with the rest of the world, and that it would be a breach of the extradition treaty signed with the US.

Interior Minister Eli Yishai spoke in support of the law, and the Shas ministers backed it in the cabinet.

At 9:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A thief at any age is still a thief, there's no reason not to extradite Berger. I hope this bill is not passed.

At 10:08 AM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

I don't believe the law was ever passed.


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