A haredi rabbi who also works as an attorney, David Avigdor, was sentenced to three years of probation and must pay restitution after pleading guilty to his role in a multimillion dollar mortgage fraud conspiracy that defrauded both the government and private lenders and left dozens of blighted, vacant properties scattered across the New Haven, Connecticut, metro area. Avigdor is reportedly New Haven’s longest-serving synagogue rabbi.
Haredi Rabbi Avoids Prison In Mortgage Fraud Scheme
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
A haredi rabbi who also works as an attorney, David Avigdor, was sentenced to three years of probation and must pay restitution after pleading guilty to his role in a multimillion dollar mortgage fraud conspiracy that defrauded both the government and private lenders and left dozens of blighted, vacant properties scattered across the New Haven, Connecticut, metro area.
Avigdor is reportedly New Haven’s longest-serving synagogue rabbi.
As part of the deal, Avigdor agreed to surrender his law license for one year.
The last of 15 people indicted to be convicted and sentenced. Avigdor’s co-conspirators are all serving prison sentences.
Avigdor’s first trial ended in a hung jury.
But instead of going to trial again, Avigdor’s new attorney struck a deal with federal prosecutors. The government agreed to dismiss charges of felony conspiracy, wire fraud and several charges of making a false statement.
In return, Avigdor pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor false statement charge.
As family, friends and congregants in the courtroom cried and recited psalms, Avigdor sobbed and apologized for his role in the conspiracy.
“I stand before you ashamed, frightened, and regretful that I had any part at all in this terrible mortgage fraud,” Avigdor said. He also claimed the he was “drawn into transactions that were fraudulent” by former New Haven city alderman and state representative Morris Olmer, a disbarred attorney who was a co-conspirator in the case, without having any intent to defraud. If he hadn’t met Olmer, he said, he never would have done what he did. “I regret the day I met him,” Avigdor said.
“I deeply regret my mistake and errors in this complex matter,” Avigdor claimed.
Avigdor could have been sentenced to one year in prison and fined as much as $100,000.
But because Avigdor’s share of the stolen money was small and Avigdor was deemed to be repentant and compliant and a man who had done many “good deeds,” the judge agreed with prosecutors and departed downward from the US Sentencing Guidelines and keeping Avigdor out of prison.
The 58-year-old rabbi limped as he walked to the witness stand Thursday. He suffered a stroke after his arrest that left him partially paralyzed.
Avigdor’s total share of the proceeds of the multimillion dollar fraud was about $14,000.
But his wife earned $18,600 in commission for the sale of home involved in the scam – a fact that prosecutors did not raise.
While Avigdor blames his co-conspirators for drawing him into the scheme and deceiving him, he acknowledges that he did not follow the law and that he violated the ethical rules of his profession.
Even so, Avigdor claimed he was no crook, telling the judge that “it was the U.S. Army that liberated my father and father-in-law” from a Nazi concentration camp. Because of that, “I love the United States,” Avigdor claimed, adding that he would never want to violate US law as a result.