Three Defendants Plead Guilty in Manhattan Federal Court to Participating in $57.3 Million Fraud on Victims of Nazi Persecution

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that GENRIKH KOLONTYRSKIY, MOYSEY KUCHER, and DORA KUCHER pled guilty today in Manhattan federal court to conspiring to defraud programs administered by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, Inc. (the Claims Conference), established to aid the survivors of Nazi persecution, out of more than $57 million.

MOYSEY KUCHER and DORA KUCHER were arrested in February 2011, and KOLONTYRSKIY was arrested in October 2011 as part of an ongoing investigation that has resulted in charges against a total of 31 participants in the scheme. To date, 10 former Claims Conference employees have been charged, including a former director of the programs that were victimized. All three pled guilty today before U.S. District Judge Thomas P. Griesa.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Our efforts to hold to account all of the individuals who participated in defrauding an organization that exists solely for the purpose of aiding victims of Nazi atrocities continues. Today’s guilty pleas today underscore that commitment.”

According to the complaints and the indictment filed in Manhattan federal court:

The Claims Conference, a not-for-profit organization which provides assistance to victims of Nazi persecution, supervises and administers several funds that make reparation payments to victims of the Nazis, including the Hardship Fund and the Article 2 Fund, both of which are funded by the German government. Applications for disbursements through these funds are processed by employees of the Claims Conference’s office in Manhattan, and the employees are supposed to confirm that the applicants meet the specific criteria for payments under the funds.

As part of the charged scheme, a web of individuals systematically defrauded the Article 2 Fund and Hardship Fund programs for over a decade. The Claims Conference first suspected the fraud in December 2009, and immediately reported their suspicions to law enforcement, which conducted a wide-reaching investigation.

The Hardship Fund pays a one-time payment of approximately $3,500 to victims of Nazi persecution who evacuated the cities in which they lived and were forced to become refugees. Members of the conspiracy submitted fraudulent applications for people who were not eligible. Many of the recipients of fraudulent funds were born after World War II, and at least one person was not even Jewish. Some members of the conspiracy recruited other individuals to provide identification documents, such as passports and birth certificates, which were then fraudulently altered and submitted to corrupt insiders at the Claims Conference, who then processed those applications. When the applicants received their compensation checks, they kept a portion of the money and passed the rest back up the chain.

From the investigation to date, the Claims Conference has determined that at least 3,839 Hardship Fund applications appear to be fraudulent. These applications resulted in a loss to the Hardship Fund of approximately $12.3 million.

The Article 2 Fund makes monthly payments of approximately $400 to survivors of Nazi persecution who make less than $16,000 per year, and either lived in hiding or under a false identity for at least 18 months; lived in a Jewish ghetto for 18 months; or were incarcerated for six months in a concentration camp or a forced labor camp. The fraud involved doctored identification documents in which the applicant’s date and place of birth had been changed. The fraud also involved more sophisticated deception, including altering documents that the Claims Conference obtains from outside sources to verify a person’s persecution by the Nazis. Some of the detailed descriptions of persecution in the fraudulent Article 2 Fund applications were completely fabricated.

From the investigation to date, the Claims Conference has determined that at least 1,112 Article 2 Fund cases it processed have been determined to be fraudulent. Those cases have resulted in a loss to the Claims Conference of approximately $45 million.

While employed as a caseworker in the Article 2 Fund program at the Claims Conference, KOLONTYRSKIY knowingly processed fraudulent applications in return for payments from his co-conspirators.

MOYSEY KUCHER and DORA KUCHER both recruited individuals to provide identification documents that were subsequently used in connection with the preparation of fraudulent Hardship Fund and Article 2 Fund applications, in exchange for a portion of the money paid out to those applicants. In addition, MOYSEY KUCHER received payments from both the Article 2 Fund and the Hardship Fund based on fraudulent applications submitted to those programs in his own name, while DORA KUCHER received the one-time payment from the Hardship Fund based on a fraudulent application in her name.

With today’s pleas, a total of 22 defendants charged in the scheme have pled guilty. Charges remain pending against the remaining nine defendants in the case, who are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

###

KOLONTYRSKIY, 80, of Brooklyn, New York, faces a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison. MOYSEY KUCHER, 66, and DORA KUCHER, 58, who also reside in Brooklyn, each face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. All three defendants are scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Griesa on August 8, 2013 at 2:30 p.m.

Mr. Bharara praised the investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). He also thanked the Claims Conference for bringing this matter to the FBI’s attention and for its extraordinary continued cooperation in this investigation, which he noted is ongoing.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Complex Frauds Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher D. Frey and Jonathan Cohen, and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Rebecca Rohr are in charge of the prosecution.

Haute Tease

  • Helpful Hints For The Procrastinating Gardener

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Oh woe is me, the plans I had, the desires, the ultimate idea, to show those pesky neighbors, the ones who look down their nose at my yard. The ones, who laughed at my attempts to grow grass, bloom a rose bush and my innovative ideas for lawn care.

     
  • Ashland Oregon Day Trips Review - Stunning Beauty from Mountain to Sea

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Ashland Oregon Day Trips, from author Barbara Tricarico, presents a beautiful collection of photographs that capture her home state in all its majesty and splendor as she travels from the golden coastline to the mountain peaks.

     
  • Sabyasachi Mukherjee Spring Collection - Talkin' About a Revolution

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Sabyasachi Mukherjee, designer of Sabyasachi, made his second appearance at this year's New York IMG Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week previewing his Spring/Summer 2008 Collection to a standing room only audience that erupted with applause as he showcased his designs.

     
  • Election 2020: Democratic Candidate Tom Steyer Will End Cash Bail and School-to-Prison Pipeline

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Presidential candidate Tom Steyer unveiled a plan to reform the criminal justice system to end mass incarceration breaking the school-to-prison pipeline and fixing the pay-to-play justice system by focusing on prevention and rehabilitation.

     
  • Mission: Impossible Fallout Review - An Action Packed Electrifying Espionage Drama

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Mission: Impossible Fallout, from Paramount Pictures, Bad Robot and Skydance Media, present a thrilling, global terrorism espionage story in a supercharged race against time as the IMF team chase down the newest threat to world peace.

     
  • Have a Very “Cabo-Riffic” Holiday Season: Thanksgiving in The Tropics, A Sunny Christmas Celebration, an Exclusive New Year’s Party

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Cabo San Lucas, Mexico – Set a new family tradition of carving your turkey or exchanging gifts on the beach with a well-deserved holiday season getaway at Capella Pedregal in sunny Cabo San Lucas.

     
  • Beltway Insider: Biden’s Budget, Trump CPAC, COVID, Vaccine, Cuomo, Saudi, Yemen, MARS, Tiger Woods

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    President Biden's $1.9T budget, America's Rescue Plan, has passed the House, clearing the first hurdle toward becoming law, with republican senators vowing to argue the spending package is bloated with democratic redundancies and little direct Coronavirus aid.

     
  • 70 ISIS Associates Named Across 21 States

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Sky News, the British News Agency, has announced a former Islamic State Fighter has leaked tens of thousands of documents revealing the names and global locations of at least 22,000 recruited members of the terrorist organization.

     
  • The Low Down on Caffeine Overdose – Hype, Scare Tactic or Possibility

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Too much caffeine caused the death of a 16-year-old high school student from South Carolina who collapsed during class last month, according to the county coroner. Davis Allen Cripe died from a caffeine-induced cardiac event causing a probable arrhythmia.

     
  • Beltway Insider: Trump/Comey; Romania/G20; May’s Election Implosion; Servicemen Killed; Qatar Crisis

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    President Donald Trump remained vigilant in his duties as his maniacal meetings with former F.B.I. Director James Comey were made public which painted the president as power-hungry, vengeful, untrustworthy, suffering from mania, and generally unfit to serve.

     
  • Staying Healthy During Summer - and Year-Round

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Travel, parties, lack of sleep and even overindulging in sugary treats can be a recipe for falling off the diet and fitness bandwagon during the lazy months of summer. Fortunately, there are specific steps you can take to ensure you remain healthy and happy. 

     
  • From CANNES: Marin Karmitz Honored by the 71st Festival de Cannes

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    On the occasion of the Dinner for Professionals of the world film industry organized by the Festival de Cannes on Friday, May 11th, a tribute will be paid to Marin Karmitz for all his work in favor of auteur cinema.

     
  • Celebrity Real Estate News: Christie Brinkley's Hamptons Home For Sale

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Christie Brinkley, the perennial American Cover Girl, known the world over for her provocative and beautiful blonde tresses and sun kissed looks and of course her Sports Illustrated covers, is selling her fabulous Bridgehampton Long Island Home.

     
  • OPUS Hotel: Experience Luxurious Euro Charm in the Heart of Vancouver

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Nestled in the trendy Yale-Town section of Vancouver, British Columbia, OPUS Hotel offers its guests contemporary Euro charm with luxurious accommodations, complimentary champagne and magnificent amenities.

     
  • Winners of the Third National Web Award Announced

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    On February 5, in the Digital Business Space, the ceremony of awarding the third National Prize in the field of the web industry took place, which annually awards the best in Russia's domestic Internet projects.