Rabbi Injured in Attack Is Going to Prison

Yisroel Goldstein pleaded guilty to scamming the IRS with tax fraud schemes
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 6, 2022 8:41 AM CST
Rabbi Injured in Attack Is Going to Prison
In this June 26, 2019, photo, Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein addresses the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters.   (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File)

"I stand here today, my head bowed in shame, remorse and disappointment over the crimes that I have committed to God and mankind," Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein told a hearing Tuesday, where he was sentenced to 14 months for his crimes against the Internal Revenue Service. The 60-year-old rabbi, who was injured in the deadly 2019 mass shooting at the Chabad of Poway synagogue near San Diego, was ordered to report to a federal prison by Feb. 23 this year to serve his sentence for his role in several fraud schemes. He was also ordered to pay almost $3 million in restitution, reports NBC San Diego.

Goldstein was already under investigation when a gunman stormed the synagogue on the last day off Passover. He was shot in both hands and lost a finger. In a DoJ release, Federal prosecutors said his yearslong fraud schemes included one in which donors to the synagogue and related charities got fake tax receipts and 90% of their money back, with Goldstein keeping the other 10% for himself. In other schemes, Goldstein and co-conspirators defrauded matching donation plans at three major companies and defrauded FEMA with claims for wildfire damage that never happened. The rabbi and five co-conspirators pleaded guilty in July 2020.

Prosecutors and the rabbi's lawyers had both called for home confinement, but US District Judge Cynthia Bashant said it was important for Goldstein to serve time in prison because he had "dragged down so many congregants," the New York Times reports. "It’s important to send a message to the community, and it’s important to send a message to you," she said. In a letter to the judge, Goldstein said he had been "seduced to a very dark place, allowing the power of money to get the better part of my soul." (In October, synagogue gunman John Earnest was sentenced to life without parole.)

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