The founder of a southern California synagogue that was attacked last year in a hate crime described by the prosecutor as fatally pleaded guilty to running a multi-million dollar tax fraud program on Tuesday.
Rabbi Ysiroel Goldstein, 58, the former director and founder of Poway’s Chabad, admitted to secretly refunding millions of contributions to the synagogue and providing donors with fake receipts, the San Diego attorney said in a statement.
According to prosecutors, at least 20 donors claimed massive tax deductions, while Goldstein withheld 10 percent of the contribution and pocketed more than $ 500,000. Tax losses for the Internal Revenue Service have been estimated at more than $ 1
Prosecutors said Goldstein was under investigation for the program on April 27, 2019, when officials said 19-year-old John T. Earnest opened fire on Chabad, killing a long-time worshiper, and injuring three, including Goldstein, who has his right index finger have lost .
After the shootout, Goldstein offered his community a heartbreaking report of the attack and a strong message: “We are a Jewish nation that will remain great. We will not be overthrown by anything or anyone. Terrorism like this will not overthrow us. “
In a statement on Tuesday, the Chabad said: “That was the Rabbi Goldstein that the world got to know.”
“Since then, however, we have learned that Rabbi Goldstein violated the law, contradicted what our synagogue stands for, and violated the moral and ethical rules of the Torah he taught,” the statement said.
After hearing about the allegations against Goldstein last year, the Chabad initiated an internal review and released him from his duties. He was also released from the Chabad-Lubavitch headquarters as a representative of the movement, the statement said.
“How can we reconcile this heartbreaking reality with the good Rabbi Goldstein who has been achieved during his decades of service? How do we separate his unethical and illegal behavior from his many positive contributions to our community? We will certainly continue to deal with these questions for a long time to come, ”says the statement.
Goldstein’s lawyers did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday evening.
Goldstein pleaded guilty to the conspiracy to defraud the United States and wire fraud, prosecutors said. According to the prosecutor, he faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
Five of Goldstein’s employees pleaded guilty to wired fraud, money laundering, false tax returns, and other crimes.