Rabbi injured in Poway synagogue shooting sentenced to prison for fraud schemes

The rabbi said that the money schemes began following anxiety triggered by memories of a poverty-stricken childhood and an ever-growing family.

By World Israel News Staff

The former rabbi of Poway’s Chabad Synagogue, who lost a finger in the infamous 2019 antisemitic shooting, was sentenced to 14 months for his role in multi-million-dollar fraud schemes.

In addition to his sentence, Yisroel Goldstein, 60,  and his co-conspirators must pay $2.8 million in restitution, and he has until February 23rd to self surrender.

In an unusual event, both prosecutors and defense attorneys recommended home confinement rather than time in prison, citing the trauma Goldstein suffered during the attack and the leadership role he took on in the aftermath of the event.

But the judge rejected the recommendation, stating that it wasn’t enough considering the severity of the crimes.

“You not only committed this offense yourself, but you took a lot of people with you,” US District Court Judge Cynthia Bashant told Goldstein, the San Diego Times-Union reported.

“I think it’s important to send a message to the community, and I think it’s important to send a message to you,” she said.

However, the judge did agree to a recommendation that Goldstein be jailed in a medium-security federal prison, which is known to accommodate observant Jews.

Last summer, Goldstein pleaded guilty to 14 charges of federal wire fraud and conspiracy charges, including a years-long multi-million-dollar series of schemes that included tax evasion, ripping off government emergency relief programs and defrauding grant programs.

Goldstein found out about the investigation in 2018, but the news wasn’t made public until the court arraignment last summer.

The investigation states that some of Goldstein’s schemes began in the early 1980s, but the rabbi himself dated it back to around 2010 in a self-documentary video prepared for his defense in court, according to California news outlets.

Goldstein said that at the time, many of the synagogue’s philanthropists died or moved away, and he felt the weight of the fiscal responsibility, according to the San Diego Union Tribune. He was also struggling to support his growing family.

The rabbi’s brother, Mendel Goldstein, pleaded guilty in September 2020 to evading taxes by hiding around $700,000 in a bank account controlled by Chabad. Both men were involved in the crime and concealed the income, avoiding paying around $156,000 in taxes.

Last week, John T. Earnest , the man who killed a woman and wounded three others in the 2019 shooting attack, was sentenced to a second life sentence in federal court.