Lakewood Man Charged In $200M Real Estate Scheme

TRENTON, N.J. (1010 WINS/AP) — A man who federal prosecutors say operated a real estate investment scheme that defrauded investors of at least $200 million was arrested Thursday morning at his Lakewood home on charges of bank fraud and wire fraud.

A federal judge in Newark ordered Eliyahu Weinstein detained pending a bail hearing scheduled for Tuesday. Weinstein’s attorney, Ephraim Savitt, had sought his client’s release, maintaining his innocence and disputing claims he was a flight risk.

Savitt said the charges against Weinstein rose from disgruntled former partners who are already suing him over investment losses. He said his client’s family and friends would be ready to post whatever assets they have to help him get freed on bail.

Prosecutors said Weinstein never owned many properties he claimed were his. The 35-year-old man also falsified checks and lease agreements and even sold the same bogus property multiple times, 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reports.

He played off his connections to his own Orthodox Jewish community, exploiting its customs and business practices to bilk victims, they said.

Authorities seized several items from Weinstein’s home and business offices on Thursday morning, but further details were not disclosed.

“Weinstein is charged with offering an array of lucrative investment opportunities that served the single purpose of fattening his wallet,” U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman said in a statement. “It is always offensive when someone steals from others to finance his own luxurious lifestyle, but it is especially galling to exploit a community with whom one shares an inherent trust.”

Weinstein faces several civil lawsuits filed by many of his alleged victims, Sandberg reports. Just last week, a federal judge in Pennsylvania issued a $34 million judgment against Weinstein and some associates.

Also named in the federal complaint is Vladimir Sifovrov, of Manalapan, who’s charged with wire fraud. He remained at large Thursday.

During the court hearing, assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Coyne asked Judge Esther Salas to detain Weinstein, noting that he faces 50 years in prison if convicted on both charges. He called Weinstein a flight risk, citing his frequent trips to Israel, Poland and Ukraine, and said “the weight of evidence against him is nothing short of overwhelming.”

Savitt cited his client’s local ties in disputing the flight risk allegations.

“His only home is in New Jersey with his wife and his six very young children,” Savitt told the judge.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

  • Elias Elsar

    I think that the flight risk issue is being overplayed. It seems, that more recently, every time a Jew is accused of a crime, the flight issue is brought up. Look at Sholom Rubashkin who was denied bail for the same reason. There are no-fly lists, border lists and ankle braces. The only people who should be denied bail are those who pose an immediate danger to the public. This has nothing to do with deciding guilt. That is up to the courts. Any other approch is pure bias.

  • Lexluther

    Finally the Orthodox get busted and revealed for the crooks they really are. However, had this happened in Brooklyn, there probably would not have even been a case.

  • Mikey NoName

    Just because he has a wife and kids in Jersey doesn’t mean he won’t skip town. Obviously he has no morals to begin with. Happens all the time.

blog comments powered by Disqus
Giving Tuesday
Charles Osgood Event

Listen Live