Brooklyn Rabbi and His Brother Plead Guilty in Section 8 Fraud

The New York Times/September 4, 2012

An influential Brooklyn rabbi and onetime chaplain in New York City's jails who drew notoriety several years ago for arranging a lavish jailhouse bar mitzvah for an inmate's son pleaded guilty on Tuesday to making false statements in connection with a federal housing fraud scheme.

The rabbi, Leib Glanz, a prominent member of the Satmar Hasidic sect, and his brother, Menashe Glanz, had been charged with stealing more than $220,000 over 15 years in housing subsidies from the Section 8 program, which is intended to assist low-income people.

Rabbi Glanz, 54, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count that carries a maximum one-year sentence; his brother Menashe Glanz, 50, also pleaded guilty on Tuesday, to a theft charge that carries a maximum 10-year term. They are to be sentenced on Jan. 25.

The city's Department of Investigation had said that the scheme was the largest individual case of tenant fraud it had investigated. "Tricking the government to steal public housing subsidies is a fruitless endeavor with a high price - arrest, prosecution and conviction," said Rose Gill Hearn, the department's commissioner.

Prosecutors had charged that the rabbi's brother was approved for federal subsidies in the mid-1990s so that he, his wife and two children could reside in a duplex apartment at 85 Ross Street in Brooklyn. He listed his income at $6,630 and submitted annual paperwork certifying that he lived at the address, the government said.

But in fact, he lived elsewhere and Rabbi Glanz lived in the apartment, according to a criminal complaint filed last year by the office of Preet Bharara, the United States attorney in Manhattan.

The complaint said the housing subsidies were paid to the apartment's owner, the United Talmudical Academy, where Rabbi Glanz worked and for a time was executive director.

In court, Rabbi Glanz told Judge P. Kevin Castel that in 1996 through 2000, he signed several contracts with the New York City Housing Authority, which administered the Section 8 program for the federal government, for benefits to be paid to the academy on the basis that his brother would live in the apartment.

"That statement was false and I knew it was false because my brother and his family were not the tenants," Rabbi Glanz said, adding, "When I signed the contract, I knew that what I was doing was wrong."

In court, the men appeared somber as they responded to questions posed by Judge Castel.

Menashe Glanz admitted signing forms that contained false statements about where his family was living to obtain benefits "to which we were not entitled."

Neither man would comment after the proceeding. Rabbi Glanz's lawyer, Alan Vinegrad, said his client had "spent a lifetime helping others in need, and in this case, he tried to help his brother but he went about it in the wrong way."

"He's sorry he did that," Mr. Vinegrad added, "and today he accepted responsibility for it."

Marjorie J. Peerce, a lawyer for Menashe Glanz, said her client had also accepted responsibility, and "looks forward to living his life with his family and contributing to his community."

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