Sadly, a reader made me aware of a news story regarding the arrest of (a) Grand Rebbe of Spinka, his Gabbai, and a host of other people involved in a massive tax fraud scheme stretching from Brooklyn to Los Angeles, with money also being funneled through a bank in Israel. In 1994 or 1996 (?) a similar story of a tax fraud and money laundering scheme broke and arrests were made in both New York and Los Angeles. The pink tint on my glasses was chipped at that point. When Clinton left office in 2000 and pardoned the New Square men who managed to make off with
Over 10 years later, I wish I just want a little bit of pink tint back. While apologists on sites like VosIzNeis want to hang the "mosser," and ask everyone to be "dan l'chaf zechut," and pretend the government has just made a terrible mistake in these arrests, my professional background makes me 99.9% certain that the men arrested won't be walking free. (See the comments from the wife of a fraud specialist. I could have written the same thing, except my husband does not work in investigations. Rather, I've actually traced and detected fraud in what seems like a previous lifetime. . . . baruch Hashem, I've never, ever dealt with anyone Jewish).
Setting up a tax fraud scheme where hundreds of individuals "donated" millions of dollars and then itemized those donations when they knowingly received an 80-95% rebate is planned, deliberate, intentional, malicious, and illegal criminal activity. This isn't giving in to a small temptation such as deducting the price of your tickets to a Chinese Auction. This took massive manpower. Such a scheme perpetuated from the top and joined in by a hundreds of people speaks volumes about the lack of integrity, the worship of the dollar, and the precarious financial situation of the Orthodox Community as a whole, as the Chassidish community in particular.
Some people would like you to believe that massive defrauding of the government and the taxpayers of millions of dollars is a victimless crime. But, surely there are many victims besides the taxpayers as a whole (and given the amout of tax we pay year in year out, stories of fraud make me feel like I have been personally pickpocketed).
Certainly the wives (assuming they didn't participate in the scheme themselves) are victims. They now will bear the brunt of their husband's misdeeds, especially if there are children still in the home. The emotional and financial damage must be enormous. Since I have started this blog, I have planned to write a post on wives getting involved in the finances. I think it is important for so many reasons. This is yet another powerful reason.
Another set of victims are the children and grandchildren. And not just their direct descendants who will be without a father/grandfather, but other children who are starting to see the seedier side of Orthodox life, which can invite a bit of cynicism to put it lightly.
The news story notes that one of the men arrested was a scribe/sofer. One would assume that every mezuzah he has written/repaired as well as every Torah he has written/repaired during the time he was involved with this or other schemes is now possul. But that is a question for a posek. And, I'm not that posek. If so, there is another group of people who will have been directly defrauded.
And, lastly, every Jew is a victim. I, for one, just want my pink glasses back. There is so much to say, but I really just feel like crying.