Massive Asset Recovery Action Against Numerous Synagogues & Yeshivas

Before Steven Oschweritz filed for bankruptcy, he apparently transferred a ton of money to various Orthodox institutions.

Does anyone know anything about bankruptcy law and lawsuits for the recovery of preferential transfers and fraudulent conveyences?

A bankruptcy judge has the right to order that all transfers out of the estate on the eve of bankruptcy are to be brought back into the estate for distribution.

Just before declaring bankruptcy, this Steven Oscherwitz bloke apparently transferred a ton of assets to yeshivas and other Jewish institutions and individual Jews.

Chapter Seven trustee for Universal Merchants Inc, David L. Ray, has now initiated over 100 lawsuits to recover assets.

Here’s the recovery action against the Spinka Hasidim.

Here’s a note from point 12 of this lawsuit: "The Trustee’s investigation reveals that, for many years pre-petition, Mr. Oscherowitz commingled his personal and business finances, including those of UMI. Mr. Oscherowitz transferred substantial amounts of funds both to and from these entities and, in many instances, credited and charged personal expenses to advance accounts."

From point 14: Pllaintiff believes…the Debtors transferred…no less than $15,000 to the defendant.

Here’s the recovery against Yeshiva Gedola of Los Angeles. The plaintiff alleges the defendant transferred no less than $32,000 to the yeshiva.

Here are some of the other parties getting sued: YESHIVA RAV ISACSOHN ACADEMY, BAIS YAAKOV SCHOOL FOR GIRLS (Los Angeles), KEHILAS YAAKOV, EZER YELADIM, LA BREA KOSHER MARKET, CONGREGATION CHAKAL YITZCHOK, JERUSALEM TOURS, SHOCKWAVE MARKETING, CONGREGATION NOTZER CHESED, BNOS CHAYIL, BAIS YAAKOV OF ADAS YEREIM, ASHER AROM, CAMP RAV TOV, MIFAL CHESED, INC., A NEW YORK NOT-FOR-P, CENTRAL RABBINICAL SEMINARY, SHALOM TORAH CENTERS, CHEDER OF LOS ANGELES, CBP MOSAD, GEMACH ZICHRON SHMIEL ZANVEL, CONGREGATION ADAS YEREIM, KOLLEL TIFERES YAAKOV YOSEF, GEMACH TZEDAKA VECHESED, KOLLEL NER AVROHOM, BNOS MENACHEM, YESHIVA IMREI JOSEPH OF SPINKA, OHR YAAKOV YOSEF, CHEDER MENACHEM, BETH HAMEDRESH RACMAY HAUB, BNEI SHIMON YISROEL D’SHORAN, CONGREGATION BETH CHAIM, CONGREGATION BNOS MOSHE, CAMP MACHNE DIVRIE YOEL CORP., OHR YAACOV,KEREN CHASANIM D’SATMAR, INC., COL HITZTACHAS, RABBI SHLOMO ALGAZ, MOSDOS SPINKA, YESHIVAS YOSEF D’KROLA, CITY GLATT, INC., A CALIFORNIA CORPORATION, YESHIVAS OHR YAAKOV, CONGREGATION BAIS MOSHE OF KORUV, YESHIVA BNEI SHIMON D’SHOPRON, MOSDOS HACHESED, AGUDATH CHASIDEI SPINKA, CONGREGATION CHEVRA KADISHA, MID-CITY CHABAD, INC…

I shelled out the big bucks and got this comprehensive information from web pacer.

Oscheritz was busted by the FTC in 1996 and enjoined from making more false claims about his product Chroma-Trim:

IT IS ORDERED that respondents, directly or through any corporation, subsidiary, division, or other device, in connection with the manufacturing, labeling, advertising, promotion, offering for sale, sale, or distribution of ChromaTrim or ChromaTrim-100 ("ChromaTrim") or any food, dietary supplement, or drug, as "food" and "drug" are defined in Section 15 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, in or affecting commerce, shall not represent, in any manner, expressly or by implication, that:

A. ChromaTrim significantly reduces body fat;
 
B. ChromaTrim causes significant weight loss;
 
C. ChromaTrim significantly reduces body fat or causes weight loss without dieting or exercise;
 
D. ChromaTrim increases lean body mass or builds muscle;
 
E. ChromaTrim controls appetite or craving for sugar; or
 
F. Nine out of ten people do not consume enough chromium to support normal insulin function, resulting in decreased ability to burn fat, preserve muscle, and control hunger and cravings,

unless, at the time the representation is made, respondents possess and rely upon competent and reliable scientific evidence that substantiates the representation.

Here’s the November 7, 1996 press release:

The Federal Trade Commission today announced settlements with three California companies charged with making unsupported claims about weight loss and health benefits for chromium picolinate, one of the hottest dietary supplements on the market. The FTC said that these claims must be backed with solid scientific evidence, but these were not.

Some have called chromium picolinate the "medical miracle of the 1990s." At issue are claims that most American diets lack adequate chromium and risk potentially serious health problems, and claims that chromium picolinate supplements burn fat, cause weight loss, increase muscle mass, reduce serum cholesterol, regulate blood sugar levels, and treat or prevent diabetes. Chromium is a trace mineral that appears to play a role in insulin function. Chromium picolinate has found its way into many products, including chewing gum; total retail sales for chromium-based supplements are estimated to be $100 million a year.

"Consumers have a right to expect that claims that products will speed weight loss and improve health are based on solid scientific evidence, not preliminary or inconsistent findings," said Jodie Bernstein, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.

Today’s cases are against:

  • Nutrition 21, the sole supplier of chromium picolinate in the US, Selene Systems, Inc., a general partner of Nutrition 21, and Herbert H. Boynton. The San Diego-based company holds the exclusive US license on the patent rights to chromium picolinate, and sells it to the public through distributors;
  • Victoria Bie, doing business as Body Gold, a La Jolla-based company that sold its dietary supplements directly to the public through ads in national magazines. The main ingredients of the products — sold under the names Chromium Picolinate, 24K with Chromium Picolinate, Super Fat Burner Formula, L-Carnitine, Daily Energy Formula, and Citrigold — are chromium picolinate, L-carnitine, and/or (-)hydroxycitric acid (HCA); and
  • Universal Merchants, Inc., a Los Angeles-based company and Steven Oscherowitz, its president. The company advertises and distributes its chromium picolinate chewing gum products — Chromatrim and Chromatrim 100 — through an infomercial starring Susan Ruttan, an actress who appeared in the long-running series, LA Law, and in print ads in national magazines.

Today’s complaints cite various advertising statements and testimonials from consumers claiming weight loss and health benefits that allegedly can be achieved by using chromium picolinate. According to the complaints, the companies failed to provide adequate substantiation for their claims that the supplement would, among other things, cause significant and long-term weight loss; improve body composition by reducing body fat and building muscle; increase metabolic rate; control appetite; reduce serum cholesterol; regulate blood sugar levels; increase energy and/or stamina; and treat and prevent diabetes.

The FTC also maintains that:

  • the companies failed to substantiate their claim that 90 percent of American adults do not consume enough chromium in their diets to support normal insulin function and therefore are at risk for obesity, heart disease and diabetes;
  • the companies falsely claimed that chromium picolinate’s benefits are proven by scientific studies; and
  • some of the companies made unsubstantiated claims that the testimonials used in their ads reflect the typical experiences of consumers who use chromium picolinate products.

According to the FTC’s Bernstein, Americans spend about $33 billion a year on weight loss products, programs and services. "There’s only one way people can tell the sizzle from the substance when it comes to these kinds of claims," she said. "Subject them to a healthy dose of skepticism." Over the years, the FTC has brought more than 140 cases against companies making deceptive weight loss and health benefits claims.

Under the proposed consent agreements to settle these allegations, announced today for public comment, the respondents would be prohibited from making any of the challenged claims for chromium picolinate in the future, unless they have competent and reliable scientific evidence to support them. The settlements also would require them to have competent and reliable scientific evidence to support any representation they make about the benefits, performance, efficacy, or safety of any food, dietary supplement, or drug they advertise or sell.

The settlements would further prohibit the respondents from misrepresenting the results of any test, study, or research. Respondents Bie and Universal Merchants would be prohibited from representing that any testimonial or endorsement is the typical or ordinary experience of users of the advertised products, unless the claim is substantiated or the respondents disclose the generally expected results clearly and prominently.

In addition, the settlement with Nutrition 21 would require the company to send its customers (who resell chromium picolinate to the public) a notice of the Commission’s allegations and a request to stop using sales materials making the challenged claims. This notice must be sent to anyone with whom Nutrition 21 has done business since 1993 and everyone with whom they do business for the next three years.

Finally, the settlements include various reporting requirements to help the FTC monitor the respondents’ compliance with their provisions.

The Commission votes to accept the three consent agreements for public comment were 5-0.

Related Documents

In 2003, Oschweritz reached an agreement with the L.A. City Ethics Commission regarding his giving an amount of money to former mayor James Hahn that violated the law.

 

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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