As FailedMessiah.com reported several weeks ago, the government-funded Chabad-Lubavitch Crown Heights Community Council's newly-elected leader is convicted felon Moshe Rubashkin.
New York Newsday has added some additional information to our brief report:
Felon picked as leader
No rules prevent convict from heading government-funded Crown Heights group; he won't 'handle checks'
BY GLENN THRUSH
March 10, 2005
Rabbi Moshe Rubashkin, new chairman of the politically wired Crown Heights Jewish Community Council, is famous for inviting his neighbors to a lavish annual Purim party.
But Rubashkin spent his 2003 Purim in the pokey - serving out a 15-month federal plea deal for passing $325,000 in bad checks on behalf of his troubled textile business.
On Jan. 31, 2005 - less than a year after walking out of Fort Dix federal prison in New Jersey - Rubashkin was elected chairman of the council, which receives $1.9 million a year in city and state social services and housing contracts.
While no laws prevent a felon from running a government-funded group, Rubashkin has vowed "not to handle any of the checks" for the council, said a source close to him. Rubashkin, 46, refused to comment through a spokesman.
Rubashkin unseated chairman Chanina Sperlin, garnering about 800 of 1,200 votes in a bitter election that divided many in the Lubavitcher Hasidic community. Women weren't allowed to vote.
The council's leaders often play a role in citywide politics. In 1997, Bruce Teitelbaum, chief of staff to Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, reportedly worked to oust the council's then-chairman Rabbi Joseph Spielman.
Sperlin, who owns a property management company, was a Giuliani supporter who backed ex-Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer, a Democrat, for mayor in 2001.
To celebrate his victory, Rubashkin has invited elected officials, including Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and City Councilwoman Leticia James (D-Crown Heights) to his house for sabbath dinner tomorrow.
Markowitz rejected the offer, citing prior commitments; James accepted but is reconsidering after learning of Rubashkin's criminal past, a spokeswoman said. "She will meet with community leaders and consider her options," her chief of staff, Janella Meeks, said.
In 1999, Rubashkin wrote three checks from his nearly empty bank account to Montex, a Pennsylvania-based textile company. When an associate warned Rubashkin that he needed to cover the checks or face prosecution, he replied, "So, I will go to jail," according to documents released by federal prosecutors in Pennsylvania.
When he passed the checks, he was being investigated for reporting irregularities in payroll taxes, a law enforcement source said on condition of anonymity. He was hit with a $278,194 federal tax lien in 1997, according to city records. It's not clear whether he ever paid it off.
Rubashkin, who was released from prison on Feb. 23, must report to a probation officer for the next four years.
Of course, the meat served at that "sabbath dinner" will come from his brother's slaughterhouse in Postville, Iowa. (Make sure to scroll down the entire page to see all the posts.)