Rabbi hurt in California synagogue shooting admits tax fraud

A rabbi who had part of his hand shot off in a deadly attack last year at his Southern California synagogue has pleaded guilty to tax and wire fraud

ByThe Associated Press
July 14, 2020, 5:01 PM
Yisroel Goldstein
FILE - In this June 26, 2019, file photo, Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, senior rabbi of Chabad of Poway synagogue in San Diego, Calif., addresses the United Nations General Assembly's meeting on combating antisemitism and other forms of racism and hate in the digital age at U.N. headquarters. The rabbi who had part of his hand shot off in a deadly attack at his Southern California synagogue pleaded guilty Tuesday, July 14, 2020, to federal charges of tax and wire fraud, according to a newspaper report. Rabbi Goldstein, 58, acknowledged his role in a scheme in which donors made large contributions to Chabad of Poway but then secretly got most of the money back, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File)
The Associated Press

SAN DIEGO -- A rabbi who had part of his hand shot off in a deadly attack at his Southern California synagogue pleaded guilty Tuesday to federal charges of tax and wire fraud, according to a newspaper report.

Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, 58, acknowledged his role in a scheme in which donors made large contributions to Chabad of Poway but then secretly got most of the money back, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

Typically the synagogue would keep a portion of the contribution — perhaps 10% — then funnel the remaining 90% back to the donor, the newspaper said.

Authorities said the donor could then claim a large charitable contribution on their taxes, despite having only put out a fraction of the claimed amount.

Neither Goldstein nor his attorneys made any comments to a Union-Tribune reporter after the hearing in U.S. District Court in San Diego. At least five other people are expected to plead guilty in connection with the case.

The investigation of Goldstein started more than 18 months ago. The newspaper said authorities served a search warrant on the synagogue on Oct. 17, 2018 — almost six months before a gunman burst into a Passover service and opened fire.

One congregant, Lori Gilbert-Kaye, was killed and three others were injured. Among them was Goldstein, who lost his right index finger

The rabbi received an outpouring of support that included meeting President Donald Trump at the White House.

John Earnest, 20, has been charged in the attack both in state and federal court. He has pleaded not guilty to hate crime-related murder, attempted murder and other charges.

In November, citing exhaustion, Goldstein retired from the leadership of Chabad of Poway. One of his sons now leads the congregation.

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