Holocaustolators are the most credulous of all true believers.
Rabbi Menachem Youlus admits to Torah scam and faces jail
Duped investors into believing he found scrolls at Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen Holocaust camps
By Robert Gearty AND Tracy Connor / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
February 2, 2012
A rabbi who proclaimed himself the “Jewish Indiana Jones” admitted Thursday he was really the villain in a made-for-Hollywood swindle.
Menachem Youlus, a Baltimore bookstore owner, pleaded guilty in Manhattan Federal Court to spinning a web of lies that snared a billionaire philanthropist.
He faces up to five years in prison for creating a bogus charity built on fictional tales of rescuing Holocaust-era Torahs, selling forgeries and pocketing the dough.
“I know what I did was wrong and I deeply regret my conduct,” Youlus said in court.
His lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, said the plea deal “ends an agonizing voyage by a good man with the best of intentions who ultimately strayed into fraudulent conduct.”
Prosecutors had charged Youlus, 50, with weaving fantastical tales of international derring-do to impress donors to his charity.
He claimed to have used a metal detector to unearth a metal box with Torah scrolls on the grounds of the Auschwitz concentration camp.
He sold the supposed relic to investor David Rubenstein, who donated them to the Central Synagogue in Manhattan, and tried to soak him for a $250,000 donation, court papers say.
Youlus also convinced a buyer that he found a Torah at the Bergen-Belsen camp by telling a ridiculous account of stumbling onto a hole in the corner of the floorboards.
He used the money to pay private school tuition bills for his kids and to make personal investments.
As part of his plea agreement, he will repay his victims $1.2 million. He is free on $100,000 bond until his June 21 sentencing.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara noted that Youlus had “exploited the profound emotions attached to one of the most painful chapters in world history — the Holocaust — in order to make a profit.
“Today’s guilty plea is a fitting conclusion to his story and he will now be punished for his brazen fraud.
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