The San Diego Union Tribune reports:
Two charity operators who collected hundreds of tons of donations from the San Diego Food Bank were charged yesterday with multiple counts of grand theft and forgery. They are accused of stealing food and other groceries meant for the poor.
The San Diego City Attorney's Office filed criminal complaints against Zeev Buchler and Jose Alanis, two subjects of a report this year in The San Diego Union-Tribune that examined widespread mismanagement and theft at the county's largest hunger-fighting organization.
Prosecutors expect to seek jail time for Alanis and Buchler, both of whom owned or had family members who owned retail stores selling the same types of products they withdrew from the food bank.…
According to the complaints, Buchler and Alanis defrauded the food bank and donors by taking products that were supposed to help the neediest families in San Diego County.
Investigators spent much of this year reviewing records and interviewing food-bank employees, swap-meet vendors and other witnesses, Davis said in an interview.
Buchler withdrew food and other products from the food bank for more than 10 years under the authority of Chabad of San Diego, a well-known Jewish organization based in Scripps Ranch.
Buchler was charged with 32 counts of grand theft and petty theft and one count of forgery. In the last six months of 2004 alone, he collected nearly 55 tons of food-bank donations.
During the time Buchler collected groceries from the food bank, he ran a retail store on El Cajon Boulevard, was fired from an insurance agency for embezzlement and was repeatedly sued by creditors. He also declared personal bankruptcy in the 1990s.
Rabbi Josef Fradkin said yesterday that Chabad of San Diego had "absolutely no knowledge of (Buchler's) alleged activities." However, records obtained by the newspaper showed that Chabad officials knew about the withdrawals and did little to stop them beyond telling the food bank that they were not responsible for debts Buchler owed the food bank.
Davis said Buchler recently sold his house in University City and left San Diego. She expected a bench warrant to be issued for his arrest as soon as today.
"We're definitely actively looking for him," she said.…
Something to keep in mind as one prepares to write a check for Chabad hurricane relief.