Saturday, March 05, 2005

One of South Jersey's worst polluters: Classic Cake Co., a Kosher bakery that was once owned by the wife of a prominent rabbi who had her killed


At 5:03 PM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

Company information:

Kashrut Certificate (under Rabbi Joshua Toledano):


Classic Cake's pollution fines among top in N.J.

Saturday, March 5, 2005

Courier-Post Staff
If you were asked to name South Jersey's worst polluters, oil refineries would surely spring to mind.
Or perhaps any of the myriad chemical companies that line the Delaware River.

You'd be wrong.

It's a bakery.

Classic Cake Co. of Cherry Hill, famous for its deluxe cakes and kosher baked goods, has amassed $675,000 in water-pollution fines from the Camden County Municipal Utilities Authority since around 2001, according to CCMUA officials. This is one of the highest amounts racked up by any company anywhere in the state.

It might seem like an awful lot of money for discharging, of all things, excessive levels of grease and sugar into sewers.

But Andrew Kricun, the CCMUA's deputy director, called this a case of an "incorrigible" company failing to adhere to regulations designed to protect both the CCMUA treatment plant and the river. He said the situation has languished far too long.

"Usually fines are sufficient to get companies back into compliance. This particular industry wasn't deterred at all," he said, adding the CCMUA is now trying to collect a significant portion of the fines through an administrative law judge.

But Michael Dolin, who has owned the sprawling bakery on Springdale Road since 1999, says he tried working with environmental consultants and the CCMUA to fix the problem. He said the consultants couldn't agree on a course of treatment actions at the bakery; he ultimately decided to send the wastewater to a septic waste hauler instead of the CCMUA.ADVERTISEMENT - CLICK TO ENLARGE OR VISIT WEBSITE

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"I don't think I'm a bad guy here. We recognized the CCMUA was taking issue with us and we took steps all along the way . . . to try to rectify the problem," he said.

Dolin was ordered by a Superior Court judge in July to pay the Delaware River Port Authority $14,177 restitution for the 1,100 times his trucks went through E-ZPass lanes on area bridges without paying tolls. Dolin was also placed on five years of probation.

His Classic Cake Co. repeatedly violated CCMUA standards for excessive levels of grease, which can clog sewers as well as equipment at the CCMUA's regional treatment plant in Camden, Kricun said.

It also failed to meet CCMUA standards for compounds that increase biological oxygen demand, Kricun said. In this case, sugars are the culprit. The sewer plant must work harder to break down bacteria bred by all that sugar before wastewater is discharged into the river; high levels of bacteria can reduce dissolved oxygen needed by fish and other aquatic organisms.

Classic Cake's menu of baked goods is enough to make the mouth water: white chocolate raspberry cheesecake, vanilla strawberry shortcake, Jewish apple cake, German chocolate cake, blackberry pie, lemon cheese muffins, whipped cream eclairs, white chocolate mousse tarts . . . the list goes on and on.

So it's hard to imagine all these goodies somehow being bad for the environment.

The state Department of Environmental Protection says the Classic Cake situation, by itself, really has no big impact on CCMUA operations or the environment. But the CCMUA has set tough standards because it wants to protect the integrity of its system, said Jim Murphy, a DEP supervising engineer.

"In my experience, there have only been a few cases where we've seen such (high) penalties," he added.

Kricun believes the idea of pursuing fines against Classic Cake is far from half-baked. If everyone decided to disregard CCMUA standards, the treatment plant would not be able to protect the river, he said.

"We have some flexibility with the penalties, but the standard has to be the standard across the board," he said.

Dolin, however, said the problem preceded his purchase of the bakery.

"Do I think I'm being treated fairly? I guess the obvious answer is `no.' I'm trying to get the matter resolved."

Bakery founded by slain wife of rabbi sold
May 19, 1999
sociated Press Newswires

CHERRY HILL, N.J. (AP) - An upscale bakery chain once run by the murdered wife of a prominent rabbi reopened one of its three former locations this week.

Classic Cake Co. abruptly closed the doors on its Audubon, Cherry Hill and Voorhees storefronts on Jan. 5.

Former president Richard Price had problems running the business after his manager, Carol Neulander, died in November 1994.

Rabbi Fred J. Neulander, founder of Congregation M'Kor Shalom in Cherry Hill, is charged with hiring a hitman to kill his wife. She was found beaten to death in their home. He is free on $400,000 bail awaiting trial.

The new owners reopened the Cherry Hill store Tuesday and plan to open the Voorhees shop by the end of the month. There are no plans to reopen the Audubon bakery, said Sharla Feldscher, a spokeswoman for the owners.

Mrs. Neulander started baking for restaurants in her home and then formed the business with two partners about 15 years ago. The firm was sold to Price, their master baker and cake decorator, in the 1980s.

The new owners are Niki and Michael Dolin and Marge and Richard Petrone. The Petrone's daughter and son-in-law, Christine and Rob LaVida, are also partners.

The new owners did not disclose how much they paid for the name and original recipes of the business, said Feldscher.

The Dolins of Cherry Hill are part-owners of Scargo, a restaurant in Marlton, and Hard Shell Cafe and Seafood Company in Florida. The Petrones, also of Cherry Hill, own Viking Pastry, and the LaVidas, who reside in Washington Township in Gloucester County, work for them.

May 20, 1999
The Record, Northern New Jersey

An upscale bakery chain once run by the wife of a prominent rabbi who has been accused of having her killed reopened one of its three former locations this week.

Classic Cake Co. abruptly closed the doors on its Audubon, Cherry Hill, and Voorhees storefronts on Jan. 5.

Former president Richard Price had problems running the business after his manager, Carol Neulander, died in November 1994.

Rabbi Fred J. Neulander, founder of Congregation M'Kor Shalom in Cherry Hill, is charged with hiring a hit man to kill his wife. She was found beaten to death in their home. He is free on $400,000 bail awaiting trial.

The new owners reopened the Cherry Hill store Tuesday and plan to open the Voorhees shop by the end of the month. There are no plans to reopen the Audubon bakery, said Sharla Feldscher, a spokeswoman for the owners.

Carol Neulander started baking at home for restaurants and then formed the business with two partners about 15 years ago. The company was sold to Price, their master baker and cake decorator, in the Eighties.

The new owners are Niki and Michael Dolin and Marge and Richard Petrone. The Petrones' daughter and son-in-law, Christine and Rob LaVida, are also partners.

The new owners did not disclose how much they paid for the name and original recipes of the business, said Feldscher.

The Dolins of Cherry Hill are part-owners of Scargo, a restaurant in Marlton, and Hard Shell Cafe and Seafood Co. in Florida. The Petrones, also of Cherry Hill, own Viking Pastry, and the LaVidas, who reside in Washington Township in Gloucester County, work for them.

June 11, 2000
New York Daily News

The last time Rabbi Fred Neulander spoke to his wife, Carol, he told her, "Hi, I love you, and I'll see you tonight."

That was Nov. 1, 1994, and Neulander kept his word.

When he came home from synagogue at 9:20 that Tuesday evening, he did see his wife - dead on their living room floor, her head in a pool of blood. The 52-year-old mother of three had been bludgeoned to death.

The terrible secret of who murdered Carol Neulander in her Cherry Hill, N.J., home easily could have gone to the grave with her if a few people kept their mouths shut - her husband for one. Then, just six weeks ago, a South Jersey man made the stunning admission he was the rabbi's hit man.

There had been whispers over the years about who killed the rabbi's wife, a devoted mother and talented businesswoman who had founded two popular South Jersey bakeries. Authorities and many members of Neulander's congregation immediately suspected the charismatic rabbi might have hired someone to do it, though for many the notion that Fred Neulander could commit such a heinous act was unthinkable.

But little by little, troubling details about Neulander began to emerge. A restless mistress Almost immediately after the murder, homicide detectives discovered the rabbi had a mistress - a flashy redhead and Philadelphia radio host. A mistress who was growing restless with their secret life, the hurried sex in the rabbi's locked study, the stolen hours at her home. After two years of sneaking around, Elaine Soncini gave the rabbi an ultimatum: "If you cannot leave your wife, I will leave you."

"Trust me, we will be together," he assured her. "Everything will work out by your birthday."

Pressured by the rabbi to lie to police about their affair, Soncini initially hid the truth. But when the heat was turned up to find Carol Neulander's cold-blooded killer and Soncini was told by police she wasn't the only woman the rabbi was romancing, she blabbed about their affair.

It started, she said, after Fred Neulander presided at her husband's funeral in 1992, and the grieving widow had looked to the rabbi for bereavement counseling.

Soncini wasn't the only one who talked. The rabbi's racquetball partner, Myron (Pep) Levin, told two friends and later a grand jury how weeks before the murder, Neulander had brazenly mused aloud during a game that he wished he could come home and find his wife dead.

Did Levin, who Neulander believed had connections to the underworld, know anyone who could do him a favor?

Despite all this, the case against Neulander - who grew up the only child of a dry cleaner in Queens and who in 1974 co-founded with his wife the largest Reform temple in affluent Cherry Hill - was wholly circumstantial.

In the 5 1/2 years since Carol Neulander's death, no murder weapon had been found. No killer stepped forward. Prosecutors, who finally won a murder indictment against the rabbi last year, said he was desperate to get out of his 29-year marriage but feared a messy divorce would reveal his infidelities and cost him his position at Temple M'kor Shalom. The word on the street, as Camden County prosecutors were preparing for Fred Neulander's trial later this month, was that the smooth-talking rabbi with piercing blue eyes might work his charms and convince a jury of his innocence.

"I'm very confident there will be an acquittal when the whole story has been written," Neulander told the Daily News in an interview.

Confessions rock case

Maybe, lawyers involved in the case said. But last month's astonishing turn of events changed all that. Len Jenoff, who met Fred Neulander in 1992 when he was a recovering alcoholic seeking the rabbi's counsel, made front-page news in April when he confessed that the rabbi offered to pay him $30,000 to murder his wife.

Jenoff, 54, for years had presented himself as a private investigator working to solve the crime. He said he came forward because he no longer could live with the guilt.

With a newspaper reporter from The Philadelphia Inquirer at his side, Jenoff spilled his guts on April 28 to the county prosecutor over a fruit cup at a local diner. He also implicated his accomplice, Paul Daniels, 26, a roommate with a history of mental illness and drug addiction. Both Jenoff and Daniels have now admitted taking turns swinging the heavy pipes that crushed the diminutive Carol Neulander's skull and have agreed to testify against the rabbi at his trial, which has been postponed until the fall.

Jenoff told authorities he meticulously planned the homicide, calling it "his raid on Entebbe." Initially, he said, the rabbi told him the person who had to be killed was an enemy of Israel. Jenoff agreed and said he hoped the rabbi could get him a job one day with the Israel intelligence service Mossad. Eventually, the rabbi told him "the enemy of Israel" was really his wife.

"He was pushing me relentlessly, like every day it had to be then," Jenoff said.

The sensational story of murder for hire, betrayal, sex and religion might never have seen the light of day without the involvement of Nancy Phillips, a 36-year-old reporter for The Inquirer, who had been covering the case since 1994.

Phillips always believed Jenoff knew more than he was telling and spent many hours and meals listening to Jenoff talk. Her editors thought he was just a nut.

Her instincts paid off. Jenoff ultimately confessed to her last December. But the conversation was off the record, so Phillips was forced to keep his secret for five long months. Then, on April 28, while driving with Phillips to show her where he had disposed of Carol Neulander's purse, Jenoff decided he was ready to tell his story to prosecutors.

"For months, he kept telling me how this secret was eating him up inside," Phillips said. "We were driving to Philadelphia and I said, 'You know what, Camden is a lot closer. Are you sure you just don't want to talk to [Camden County Prosecutor] Lee [Solomon]?' " 'I'm not a bad person' As he chain-smoked his way through the three-hour confession, Jenoff broke down several times. "I'm not a bad person," he said at one point, removing his wire-rimmed glasses. "I just did a bad thing."

Jenoff told prosecutors he first met Rabbi Neulander in 1992, when he was jobless, had been involved in a car accident that killed a teenager, was drinking heavily and had lost faith in Judaism. When Neulander heard of his plight, he invited Jenoff to talk about his problems and to attend services.

"No rabbi ever spent five minutes with me, and Fred would sit with me for hours," Jenoff said. "He helped me so much. If he asked me to jump off a bridge, I would have said, 'Which one?' "

Maybe there is a favor you will do for your rabbi someday, Neulander told a grateful Jenoff.

That day soon came. On Oct. 25, 1994, Jenoff and Daniels showed up at the Neulander home. Carol Neulander was on the phone with her daughter, Rebecca.

Jenoff said he lost his nerve. The next day, he met with Fred Neulander in a parking lot and said the rabbi was livid he had come home to an argument instead of a corpse.

"He grabbed me by the arm and squeezed real hard, and he looked at me and his face was cherry red," Jenoff told authorities. "His eyes were bulging like he was going to kill me. I never saw that anger [before].

"He was like pointing his finger in my face: 'There are no more Tuesdays after next Tuesday. It will be done or you're dead,' " Jenoff said.

From the start, Neulander has proclaimed his innocence. He called Jenoff's confession "ridiculous." Neulander's lawyers claimed Jenoff - who has admitted fabricating a long rsum over the years, including saying he worked for the CIA - was a liar and "a kook" looking for his "15 minutes of fame."

When Jenoff entered his guilty plea 10 days ago, Neulander attorney Jeffrey Zucker said outside the courtroom: "If he killed her, it was for his own motives and had nothing to do with Fred Neulander. . . . I think time is going to show exactly what type of person Len Jenoff is." Invited into home again In her statement to police, Rebecca Neulander, 23, recounted how she was on the phone with her mother on Oct. 25 when a man appeared at her parents' door.

"Oh, this must be the man with the package Daddy said would be coming," Carol Neulander said.

Rebecca said the man asked to use the bathroom and on his way out handed Carol Neulander an envelope. Jenoff has since told authorities that he was that man.

The following Tuesday night, Rebecca Neulander was on the phone again with her mother when the deliveryman returned. "Oh, it's the 'bathroom man' again," she quoted her mother as saying. Her mother wasn't alarmed and invited the man and a companion in to wait for the rabbi to come home.

Within an hour, Carol Neulander was dead.

Authorities said she was knocked unconscious from behind with a steel pipe and hit seven times until her skull was crushed and she died. They said it was Jenoff who administered the first blow, then signaled Daniels to join in. The rabbi arrived home from synagogue about half an hour after the two men fled to find his wife, and he dialed 911.

Paramedics found Carol Neulander lying facedown on the living room floor, her glasses beside her. Blood soaked the carpet and spattered on the walls, curtains, ceilings and glass coffee table.

She had just returned from her Tuesday night meeting with colleagues from the Classic Cake Co. Her maroon purse, which typically contained cash from bakery receipts, was taken. But her diamond ring and gold necklace were still on her and the house, with the exception of the mayhem in the living room, was untouched. This was a sure sign to investigators that this was no burglary. Considering death penalty Someone wanted Carol Neulander dead.

In light of Jenoff's and Daniels' guilty pleas, the noose appears to be tightening around the 58-year-old Neulander. Prosecutors are now considering asking for the death penalty.

Outwardly at least, Fred Neulander tries to go about his life. He has been free on $400,000 bail. Although he has been suspended by the Central Conference of American Rabbis for his extramarital affairs, he still performs an occasional wedding, funeral or bar mitzvah. He spends most of his time at home.

Most people who have known him in the past now keep their distance. But the rabbi's three children have said they have no choice but to love and support and believe their father. At least for now.

In the past month, Neulander has invited reporters to chat in the living room where his wife was murdered. He can be warm and charming, reminiscing with a reporter about growing up in Kew Gardens and his life in the clergy. But his manner abruptly changes, turning dark and brusque when questions turn to his wife.

"Is it hard living in this house?" a Daily News reporter asked him.

"No, why would it be?" Neulander snapped.

"Well, because a murder was committed here."

"Yes," he added, his voice softening. "But it also has beautiful memories, over a quarter of a century."

Carol Toby Neulander was buried at Crescent Park Cemetery in Pennsauken, under a simple black-and-gold headstone.

The caretaker said Rabbi Neulander rarely visits.

Hitman: Rabbi Paid Him to Kill Wife
Associated Press Writer
October 19, 2001

CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) - A confessed killer testified Friday that he helped club a rabbi's wife to death, then collected money for the murder from the rabbi when he went to the couple's home to sit shiva, the Jewish mourning period.

Len Jenoff, 56, a former private investigator, took the stand for a second day in the trial of Rabbi Fred Neulander, who is accused of having his wife slain so that he could continue an affair with a Philadelphia radio personality.

Neulander, 60, could get the death penalty if convicted.

Jenoff, who was in tears as he testified about the night of the killing, said the rabbi promised him $30,000 for the killing.

He said he and accomplice Paul Daniels went to the Neulanders' Cherry Hill home on in October 1994 to kill the rabbi's 52-year-old wife, Carol.

Jenoff said the rabbi had instructed to take the woman's purse to make the crime look like a robbery. But Jenoff said he could not find the purse and the pair left the home.

"I knew Mr. Neulander was going to be very mad at me because he was totally expecting to come home and find his wife dead on the floor," Jenoff said.

He said he and Daniels went back on Nov. 1 and carried out the plan.

He said he heard Carol Neulander ask, "Why?" as he struck the first blow with a pipe. He said he handed the pipe to Daniels, who hit her several more times. Jenoff said he waited outside, then went back in to make sure Mrs. Neulander was dead.

Under cross-examination, Jenoff acknowledged a number of lies, including his claim to have served on a presidential commission on organized crime and his claim that he worked for the CIA. He also admitted to forging a note to himself from Ronald Reagan.

Jenoff said Neulander first asked him to commit the murder in the summer of 1994, about a year after the rabbi began counseling Jenoff, a recovering alcoholic.

Jenoff said he received $7,500 a few weeks before the first murder attempt and $7,500 in early November, when he went to Neulander's house to sit shiva.

Jenoff said he split the payments with Daniels. After that, he said, Neulander gave him cash payments of $100 to $200. The total payment was to be $30,000.

After the slaying, Jenoff said, the rabbi hired him as a private investigator and paid him through his lawyers.

"He could basically hire me to help investigate who killed his wife," Jenoff said. "And that way be could pay me for investigative services, but it would really be for murdering his wife."

When Jenoff was married in 1997, Neulander conducted the ceremony in the same room where Mrs. Neulander's body had been found nearly three years earlier. The rabbi's gift to Jenoff and his bride was a wedding cake from Classic Cake Co., the bakery Carol Neulander had founded 15 years earlier.

Jenoff also told the jury that Neulander later asked him if he could kill Myron Levin, who had appeared before a grand jury investigating the case in 1997. Levin, 76, was Neulander's former racquetball partner and confidant.

Jenoff and Daniels have pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter and agreed to testify against Neulander. Both are awaiting sentencing.

BUSINESS EXCHANGE: Area bakery's business is sweet
November 19, 2001
Associated Press Newswires

CHERRY HILL, N.J. (AP) - When township residents Niki and Michael Dolin bought the Classic Cake Co. in March 1999, they bought more than a recipe file of decadent desserts.

They bought a link to Cherry Hill's most sensational murder case.

Last week, a judge declared a mistrial in the case of Rabbi Fred J. Neulander, accused of hiring hitmen to kill his wife on Nov. 1, 1994. Carol Neulander was the founder of Classic Cake.

The Dolins, weary of the case's negative association, were hoping a verdict in the case would bring closure. They also are eager to focus on their company's expansion from three to five stores, including one in Philadelphia.

Bakeries, after all, are supposed to be happy places, destinations when it's time to mark a special occasion, from birth to death and everything in between.

"I love this business," said Niki Dolin, a veteran of the retail clothing business. "I couldn't always find the right dress for a customer, but in a good bakery you can always find something that lets your customer leave with a smile."

Despite the creepy ties to the Neulander case, which the rabbi says was the result of a bungled burglary because his wife frequently came home with a wad of Classic Cake receipts, the Dolins appear to be on the upside of three potentially lethal trends.

The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., for example, pulled the plug on consumer shopping. Gooey desserts, according to Niki Dolin, help soothe the pain.

"This has been a good time in the food business. Nothing can give you a quicker high when you're down in the dumps than a piece of double chocolate cake with chocolate mousse between the layers and chocolate buttercream icing."

Another trend that has been eating small-town bakeries like bon bons has been the rise of in-store supermarket bakers.

Classic Cake customers wouldn't buy supermarket cakes, "short of a snowstorm," said Dolin, so her business is not affected by the grocery trade.

Furthermore, Classic Cake has picked up business from area restaurants and hotels that had to lay off workers in recent months as the economy tanked. Pastry chefs often were the first to go.

Classic Cake's sales are near equally divided between wholesale and retail.

If Neulander is Dolins' least favorite topic, money is a close second.

Michael Dolin, who also is part-owner of a Hard Shell Cafe at the Neshaminy Mall in Pennsylvania, declined to say how much they paid for the business or offer a clue about volumes or revenues.

When the Dolins bought the business from former owner Richard Price, they bought locations in Audubon, Voorhees and Cherry Hill. Originally, they bought the business with another couple but have since bought them out due to disparate business philosophies, according to Niki Dolin.

The Dolins did not reopen in Audubon because of lease problems and a deteriorating downtown. The customer base returned quickly to Cherry Hill and Voorhees even though the stores had been closed for five months. Last year the Dolins added stores in Marlton and Washington Township. This year, they opened another at 16th and Samson streets in Philadelphia. All have cafes serving Bucks County Coffee.

The Dolins also began experimenting with a sorbet line this year, but the packaging is still not up to their standards.

Though neither Dolin is a baker, they inherited Dave Spillane, who trained under Carol Neulander and Price, her successor. Price, a baker and cake decorator, worked for Neulander and bought the business from her in the late 1980s. Neulander remained involved as a consultant until her death.

Today, the Dolins employ 150 people during high season, which runs from Halloween through New Year's.

Dave Short, administrator for the New Jersey chapter of the Retailer's Bakery Association, said specialty bakeries like Classic Cake are thriving in an "industry in transition."

"Gone are the days when bakers and their sons baked breads and rolls through the night and doughnuts and cakes and pies through the morning. Almost nobody does it all anymore," said Short. "Successful bakers are finding niches, whether it be muffins, Italian specialties or baking for a big client like the airlines."

Sprawling supermarkets have gobbled up legions of all-purpose, small town bakeries, he said.

"It's a tough business, and it takes more than opening up next to a Catholic Church," Short said. "People still love to go into nice bakeries where everything is fresh. If you find the right niche, it can be very profitable."

Cherry Hill, N.J.-Based Bakery Opens Sixth Store.
By Benjamin Y. Lowe, The Philadelphia Inquirer.
August 27, 2002
KRTBN Knight-Ridder Tribune Business News
Philadelphia Inquirer

Aug. 27-The Classic Cake Co., a Cherry Hill bakery founded 20 years ago by the late Carol Neulander, has opened on the Main Line, less than two years after the business moved across the Delaware River into Center City.

Owners Niki and Michael Dolin bought out Woehr's Bakery at 920 Montgomery Ave. in Narberth in early August to open their sixth Classic Cake operation. The store, the first with its own bakery, could be a beachhead for more along the Main Line, Michael Dolin, 45, said.

"We always look to go into markets where we feel we have brand recognition," Dolin said. "We have a great familiarity with the Main Line. It was logical to go out that way."

In addition to Cherry Hill and Center City, Classic Cake has stores in Voorhees, Turnersville and Mount Laurel.

Classic Cake, which does most of its baking at a 25,000-square-foot kitchen in Cherry Hill, employs between 150 and 200 people, depending on the season. It has annual sales about $5.5 million, 20 percent higher than two years ago.

Neulander, killed by an assailant in her home in November 1994, started Classic Cake Co. in 1981 with two partners as a kosher, boutique bakery. Her chief baker, Richard Price, bought the business from the partners in 1988 and Neulander worked there until her death. Price closed the business in December 1998 and the Dolins reopened it in May 1999.

"I think it was certainly her dream to build a successful business, and she had gone a good part of the way" before she sold it, Ed Lidz, 66, and Neulander's oldest sibling, said in a phone interview from his Tatwa, N.J., office last week. "As far as I'm concerned, I think [the expansion] is wonderful. And I'm sure Carol would wish them the best."

Richard Cowen, Amy Klein, and From news service reports
March 2, 2004
The Record
Bakery accused of evading tolls

CAMDEN - Delivery trucks from a popular Cherry Hill bakery crossed between New Jersey and Pennsylvania 1,132 times between May 8, 2002, and Sunday without paying tolls, authorities said Monday.

Michael B. Dolin, owner of Classic Cake Co., was charged with theft by deception. He was served a summons at his Cherry Hill home early Monday but was not taken into custody.

Classic Cake is best known as the business started by Carol Neulander in 1982. Neulander was found slain in her Cherry Hill home in 1994. Her husband, Rabbi Fred J. Neulander, was later convicted of murder.

At 5:06 PM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

Camden, N.J., Kosher Bakery Owners Wait for Murder Case to Come to End
by Jane M. Von Bergen
November 9, 2001
KRTBN Knight-Ridder Tribune Business News
The Philadelphia Inquirer - Pennsylvania

Truth be told, Niki and Michael Dolin would just like the whole thing to end.

The jury's still out on the Rabbi Neulander murder case, and the Dolins feel they are still in limbo as well. "We're praying the jury comes to a verdict," said Niki Dolin. "We'd like to have it end in our lives."

The couple own Classic Cake Co., a business that has played a role in the dramatic case, now in its final act -- the Dolins hope -- in Camden.

Rabbi Fred J. Neulander is accused of hiring a hit man to kill his wife, Carol, one of the founders of Classic Cake, a kosher, boutique bakery chain.

The defense has suggested that Carol Neulander died during a botched burglary on Nov. 1, 1994. It was known, the defense said, that she sometimes carried a significant amount of cash from the business.

"That doesn't make sense to me," said Dolin. "That's why they have banks."

Yesterday, the jury told the judges what the Dolins fear most: that they couldn't reach an agreement. If the jury cannot decide, the case lingers on.

Today, the judge will hear from lawyers on the case and probably send the jury back for at least one more try.

Meanwhile, the Dolins find themselves in an uneasy spot, somewhere between trying to jettison the unpleasant past they bought when they acquired the business in 1999 and trying to maintain the loving legacy that was the hallmark of the business Neulander and her two partners began in 1981.

Indeed, Niki Dolin thinks that she and Carol Neulander had a lot in common. "We're both Jewish women," Dolin said. "We raised three children in this town. We're both active in our synagogues. She was the rabbi's wife. I'm on my synagogue's board.

"We're both the warm, fuzzy and friendly types. I would consider it a compliment to be compared to her."

Dolin, 41, a regular Classic customer, got to know Neulander while shopping.

"I guess this bakery is Carol's legacy, and we cannot separate ourselves," she said. "And it's a wonderful and positive legacy. She should be remembered by this great company that she started and that we are lucky enough to continue."

On the other hand, bakery employees, some of whom still work there, were early suspects in the case, until May 5, 2000, when Len Jenoff confessed to the crimes.

"We don't want to talk about that," said Michael Dolin, 43, even though he knows that some of the attention the bakery has gotten has been as a result of the murder case.

"I'm not naive," he said.

But for the Dolins, the story is about how they revived a popular business, persuading former staffers to return.

Neulander's chief baker, Richard Price, had bought the business from the partners in 1988. Carol Neulander worked there until her death. Price closed the business in December 1998.

The Dolins, with partners Marge and Richard Petrone and their daughter and son-in-law, Christine and Rob LaVita, reopened it in May 1999.

The Petrones own Ardmore's Viking Bakery. The partnership has ended, although friendships remain.

The company, which had about $4.5 million in sales in 2000, has 100 to 150 employees and five locations, including a Center City location opened last year.

At Classic's 25,000-square-foot plant, bakers conspire to ruin diets with chocolate cakes layered with white chocolate mousse and zucotta -- a banana split in a cake.

The Dolins quickly realized that they had to match the standards set by Carol Neulander -- another legacy. Their customers quickly let them know if anything was different.

"We became the babysitters for this town's bakery," Niki Dolin said, laughing. "The people in this town feel they own the bakery. And that's good. They know what they want."

Classic Cake has retained its customers despite heavy competition from supermarket bakeries. It rocked its way through intense price swings in commodities, from gasoline for delivery trucks to butter for cakes.

Last year, a quart of heavy cream cost $1.60. Now it's $3.35.

Expansion plans are on hold. "In this economy, you try to keep what you have healthy," Michael Nolin said.

Society's stresses actually help, at least a little. Consumption of comfort sweets is up.

Classic Cake's wholesale business, which used to bring in 30 percent of revenues, now accounts for 50 percent.

"When the economy started to go into the Dumpster," Niki Dolin said, "one of the first people to be let go at these fancy hotels was the pastry chef."

Classic Cake picked up the accounts -- and, in at least one case, the chef.

At 11:40 AM, Blogger yeshivaguy said...

Wow, look at all the scandalous angles on this thing!

It's a kosher bakery!
It's a polluter!
It was once owned by the wife of a prominent rabbi!
He had her killed!

Incredible work, JWB. The way you just dig up these intersecting scandals.

At 5:39 AM, Blogger Conservative Apikoris said...

How many different ways can you spell L-a-s-h-o-n h-a-ra?

Not to mention b-u-l-l-s-h-i-t?

1) The current owner has nothing to do with the murder case.

2) The current owner is being fined because he's dumping too much treatable stuff into the sewage system, not becuase he's dumping toxic garbage directly into the environment.

The real scandal is that the stiffest environmental fines in south Jersey are being levied on a bakery (and a relatively small one, at that), and not on the oil refineries and chemical plants.

And it's a kosher bakery. I thought [sarcasm on] that the Jews controlled the world. How come this kosher bakery is getting picked on? [/sarcasm off]

At 8:26 AM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

>How many different ways can you
>spell L-a-s-h-o-n h-a-ra?

As it's a Hebrew phrase, there are several English spellings. This though is not Lashon Hara.

>Not to mention b-u-l-l-s-h-i-t?
>1) The current owner has nothing
>to do with the murder case.

Which I never said. Clearly my title indicates her husband killed her.

But considering what the owners (current and previous) have gone through, one must wonder if this bakery was built on some ancient Indian burial ground.

>2) The current owner is being
>fined because he's dumping too
>much treatable stuff into the
>sewage system, not becuase he's
>dumping toxic garbage directly
>into the environment.

He's polluting.

>The real scandal is that the
>stiffest environmental fines in
>south Jersey are being levied on
>a bakery (and a relatively small
>one, at that), and not on the
>oil refineries and chemical

The reason they are being fined is that they are playing loose with the law as they did with their EZ pass nonsense

>And it's a kosher bakery. I
>thought [sarcasm on] that the
>Jews controlled the world. How
>come this kosher bakery is
>getting picked on? [/sarcasm off]

Because they have little respect for dinei malchot.


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