Polina Breyter Ordered To Pay $500K Restitution
Polina Breyter, an employee of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany, also was ordered by U.S. District Judge Thomas P. Griesa in Manhattan to make restitution of nearly half a million dollars.
Breyter, 69, of Brooklyn, New York, processed false applications and recruited ineligible applicants for reparation programs in exchange for payments, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement. She pleaded guilty in May to conspiracy to commit mail fraud.
Breyter “played a central role” in the scheme against the organization that lasted more than a decade, Bharara said.
The Claims Conference administers programs sponsored by the German government to victims of Nazi atrocities.
Thirty-one people have been charged in the scheme, including 18 who have pleaded guilty, the statement said.
At least $12 million went through 3,839 apparently fraudulent applications submitted for people who were not eligible for a “Hardship Fund,” including many born after World War II, according to U.S. Attorney Bharara. The fund makes a one-time payment of $3,500 to those who evacuated their homes and were forced to become refugees.Read more
Prosecutors Work To Keep Lid on $57M Corruption Case
Federal prosecutors are trying to prevent a jury from hearing evidence that a multimillion-dollar fraud at a non-profit which processes Holocaust claims is even more widespread than the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s office have so far revealed.
The prosecutors, from the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office, are also trying to prevent defense lawyers from arguing that the German government and the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany were negligent and therefore partially to blame for the alleged $57 million fraud that will be the subject of the trial.
A fraudster’s guilt “simply does not depend on whether a victim was diligent or not,” prosecutors argued in court papers filed in U.S. District Court on March 22.
Judge Thomas P. Griesa
, of U.S. District Court, has deferred ruling on both of the prosecutors’ requests unless and until such claims arise during the trial, which began with jury selection on April 8 and is expected to last for four weeks.
The Claims Conference distributes millions of dollars from the German government to Holocaust survivors around the world. The trial will focus on alleged fraud perpetrated against two Claims Conference controlled funds. Read more
Julius Berman Appoints Task Force After Forward Expose
ETERNAL PARASITE — Jewish Claims Conference chairman Julius Berman poses among concrete “coffins” at the Holocaust® theme park in central Berlin. His job: finding ever-new ways to shake down the Germans and others six decades after the end of World War II.
Amid calls that the Claims Conference bungled a warning in 2001 about fraud within the organization, conference leaders appointed a committee to “formulate an appropriate course of action.”
The move, announced by board chairman Julius Berman in an email to board members on Sunday, followed an announcement by the World Jewish Congress that it was setting up its own task force to look into allegations of a cover-up by the Claims Conference.
The allegations concern the Forward’s revelation that an anonymous letter sent to the Claims Conference’s Frankfurt office in 2001 that identified five cases in which restitution was approved for ineligible claimants.
The letter reached the organization’s then-director in Germany, Karl Brozik, who queried Semen Domnitser, the official in New York who approved the cases and who was found guilty two weeks ago of spearheading the $57 million fraud scheme that run unimpeded at the Claims Conference from 1993 to 2009. In his 2001 response to Brozik, Domnitser acknowledged that the cases had been wrongfully approved but led officials to believe that any errors were inadvertent. The fraud scheme continued to run for nearly a decade more.
The Forward later revealed that current Claims Conference officials sought to shift the blame to Brozik, who has since died.
Among those who were CC’d on Domnitser’s response to Brozik was the former chief of the conference, Saul Kagan, it’s then-chief, Gideon Taylor, and its current chief, Greg Schneider, whose formal title is executive vice president.
The $57 million fraud scheme discovered in 2009 involved falsifying applications to the Hardship Fund, an account established by the German government to provide one-time payments of approximately $3,360 to those who fled the Nazis as they moved east through Germany, and the Article 2 Fund, through which the German government gives pension payments of approximately $411 per month to needy Nazi victims who spent significant time in a concentration camp, in a Jewish ghetto in hiding or living under a false identity to avoid the Nazis.
In all, 31 people were arrested in connection with the scheme. Twenty-eight pleaded guilty and the three who went to trial were found guilty this month in federal court in Manhattan.
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