Rabbi Zalmen Sorotzkin, Arrested In Alleged Million-Dollar Welfare Fraud

LAKEWOOD — A prominent rabbi and several others were arrested in simultaneous federal and state raids Monday morning on charges related to alleged public assistance fraud on a scale rarely seen before in New Jersey.

Rabbi Zalmen Sorotzkin, who runs the synagogue Congregation Lutzk and other businesses linked to the synagogue, was taken into custody Monday and is en route to face a judge in Superior Court in Toms River.

Also arrested in the sting headed by the FBI, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office and other agencies were Zalmen’s wife, Tzipporah Sorotzkin, and married couple Mordechai and Jocheved Breskin.

The three also face state criminal charges, according to a source close to the case who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation.

Four others were arrested Monday and are being taken to Trenton to face federal charges in U.S. District Court. They are Mordechai Sorotzkin, brother of Zalmen, and his wife, Rachel Sorotzkin, and Shimi and Yocheved Nussbaum. View the map below for the locations of the homes raided or attempted to be raided Monday.

The Lakewood residents are accused of taking advantage of multiple public assistance programs to defraud the government of around $1.3 million over the past few years, according to law enforcement sources.

“The investigation to date has found that government-benefits fraud and income tax evasion in the Lakewood community is widespread,” said the source.

The investigation found an alleged scheme that “rival the most sophisticated of financial frauds,” the source said.

As of early Monday, the indictments in the case have not yet been unsealed and the specific charges remain unknown.

The four couples are accused of vastly underreporting their incomes to illegally obtain Medicaid, Section 8 housing assistance, food stamps, Social Security disability and Supplemental Security Income, according to the source.

It is alleged that the couples made tens of thousands dollars more per year than they reported to the public assistance programs, a law enforcement source said.

Authorities were able to determine that the families allegedly misrepresented their incomes partly by tracing illegal money transfers made at a Lakewood beeper store, according to the source.

The owner of Beepers Plus on Clifton Avenue pleaded guilty on Feb. 23 to transmitting millions of dollars without a license, an indictable offense in New Jersey. Watch the video below for an Asbury Park Press report on the beeper store.

By looking at some of those transfers, along with private school tuition records and withdrawals from a state fund that pays medical fees for sick children whose parents can’t afford their care, investigators uncovered the alleged fraud, the source said.

3 replies
  1. Joe Levin
    Joe Levin says:

    מספר חרדים נעצרו הבוקר (שעון ניו יורק) בלייקווד בחשד לעבירות הונאה בכספי סיוע ציבורי בהיקפים של מליוני דולרים.

    בלשי ה-FBI פשטו על ביתו של הרב זלמן סורוצקין המנהל את בית הכנסת לוצק ועצרו אותו ואת רעייתו ציפורה.

    בנוסף נלקחו עוד בני משפחה וזוגות נוספים לחקירה כאשר החשד הינו שניצלו תוכניות סיוע ציבורי על מנת להונות את הממשלה.

    לדברי גורמים המקורבים לחקירה מדובר בהונאה ממשלתית חמורה וכן בהעלמות מס בסכומים גבוהים שנעשו בתיחכום רב.

    על פי החשד הזוגות הצליחו להוציא סכומים של עשרות אלפי דולרים מידי שנה שלא כחוק מה שהצטבר בסופו של דבר למיליוני דולרים.

  2. Joe Levin
    Joe Levin says:

    LAKEWOOD, NJ — A prominent Lakewood rabbi, his wife, and at least three other couples were arrested in raids Monday morning connected to allegations of public assistance fraud, authorities have confirmed.

    Zalmen Sorotzkin, his wife, Tzipporah Sorotzkin; Mordechai Sorotzkin, brother of Zalmen, and his wife, Rachel Sorotzkin; Mordechai and Jocheved Breskin, and Shimi and Yocheved Nussbaum, all were arrested according to information from the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office and federal prosecutors.

    Zalmen Sorotzkin is a rabbi who runs the synagogue Congregation Lutzk and other businesses, according to a report in the Asbury Park Press.

    They are accused of underreporting their income by tens of thousands of dollars and receiving more than $1.3 million in public assistance as a result, authorities said.

    on had been underway for about three years, they said.

    Authorities said there would be more arrests in the days and weeks ahead. The scale of the alleged public assistance fraud may well top several millions of dollars, authorities said.

  3. Joe Levin
    Joe Levin says:

    TRENTON, N.J. — A New Jersey rabbi and his wife and three other couples defrauded state and federal public assistance programs t of more than $1 million by underreporting their incomes, according to criminal complaints released Monday.

    One of the couples continued to receive Medicaid assistance for their children despite making more than $1 million in both 2012 and 2013, according to one criminal complaint. Another continued receiving benefits in 2014, even though they made $1.8 million the year before, prosecutors said.

    Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato said more arrests are expected as a result of the investigation centered on Lakewood, a New Jersey shore town that is home to a large and growing ultra-Orthodox Jewish community.

    Rabbi Zalmen Sorotzkin, of Congregation Lutzk, and his wife, Tzipporah, were charged with collecting more than $338,000 in benefits prosecutors said they weren’t entitled to. Their attorney said they will plead not guilty.

    They were charged in state court along with Mordechai and Jocheved Breskin, who prosecutors said collected more than $585,000 in benefits they weren’t entitled to.

    Zalmen Sorotzkin’s brother, Mordechai, and his wife, Rachel, were one of two couples charged in separate federal complaints with conspiring to fraudulently obtain Medicaid benefits.

    They made more than $1 million in 2012 and in 2013, the complaint alleges, but still received more than $96,000 in Medicaid benefits, including $22,000 to pay for medical expenses when their sixth child was born in November 2013.

    “Everything is going to work out and all will be vindicated,” said Rachel Sorotzkin’s attorney, Fred Zemel.

    The couples charged in federal court were released on $100,000 bond and their travel limited to New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, while the couples charged in state court were released without bail, but had to surrender their passports.

    According to a federal complaint, Yocheved and Shimon Nussbaum hid their income by creating companies that were run by relatives on paper, but that they actually controlled. They made a total of $1.8 million in 2013, but still received Section 8, Medicaid and food benefits into 2014, prosecutors said.

    The investigation was initiated by the FBI and the New Jersey Office of the State Comptroller. It later expanded to include U.S. Social Security Administration, the state Department of the Treasury and the Ocean County prosecutor’s office.

    “Financial assistance programs are designed to alleviate family hardships for those truly in need,” Coronato said in a statement. “My office gave clear guidance and notice to the Lakewood community in 2015 of what is considered financial abuse of these programs.

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