NEW YORK (Legal Newsline) - New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced a lawsuit and a temporary restraining order Friday against a charitable fundraising operation that allegedly engaged in fraudulent practices.
Yaakov Weingarten, the operator of the charitable fundraising operation, his wife Rivka, Simon Weiss, an associate, and David Yifat, the operation's office manager, allegedly used 19 charities to fraudulently raise millions of dollars. While the charities supposedly carried out programs in Israel or conducted religious activities, most of the charities allegedly did not operate or exist and were used by Weingarten for his personal benefit.
"These defendants brazenly abused the generosity of the public, and in particular the selfless donations that many Jews provided for charitable programs in Israel," Schneiderman said. "Mr. Weingarten took these donations and spent them on himself and his family by converting the charities' web of bank accounts into his own personal piggy bank. My office has no tolerance for this kind of abuse and we will spare no effort to put a stop to it."
Between 2007 and 2013, more than $2 million in cash was allegedly withdrawn from charity bank accounts controlled by Weingarten. At least an added $350,000 in checks were allegedly made payable to cash and more than $280,000 in additional funds were allegedly used to pay for mortgages on two homes.
The temporary restraining order freezes the bank accounts of the four individual defendants and all the charities Weingarten controlled. The order also prohibits the defendants from soliciting charitable donations and bars them from altering or destroying records.
Schneiderman's lawsuit also named the 19 organizations or names that were allegedly used by Weingarten to carry out the charitable operation, including Hatzalah Rescue Of Israel, Inc., Shearim, Inc. A/K/A Shearin, Bnei Torah, Inc., Chesed L'yisrael V'chasdei Yosef, Inc., Yad L'shabbat, Inc., Hatzalah Shomron, Inc., Pulse Foundation, Inc. A/K/A Pulse: The Israel Leukemia And Cancer Society, Agudath Chesed Bikur Cholim Israel, Inc., Kupat Reb Meir Baal Haness Bnei Torah Eretz Yisrael, Inc., Congregation Yad L'shabbat, Inc., Shearim Hayad L'torah Center For Hatzalah L'shabbat and Chesed L'yisrael, Inc., Israel Emergency Center, Magen Israel, Hayad Victim Assistance Fund, Lmaan Hatorah, Our Children, Zaka Israel A/K/A Zaka, Yaldei Simcha Yisrael and Yad Yisrael.