This story is getting a lot of play around the Jewish world.
He described himself as a risk-taking rabbi who had been “beaten up, thrown in jail and gone $175,000 into debt” on “expeditions” to Eastern Europe. He said his mission was to rescue and restore Torahs that had been “wrenched from their communities during the Holocaust” and place them with congregations that would look after them.
“I guess you could call me the Jewish Indiana Jones,” he wrote in 2004.
But on Wednesday, the rabbi, Menachem Youlus, was arrested in Manhattan on fraud charges. Court papers said he had never gone to the far-flung places he talked about and had made up the stories he told about discovering Torahs at the sites of the Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen concentration camps — or in Iraq in 2007.
Instead, prosecutors accused him of selling fake Torahs and pocketing hundreds of thousands of dollars through Save a Torah, the nonprofit organization he co-founded in 2004. A postal inspector who investigated Rabbi Youlus’s dealings also challenged his tale of financial troubles, saying in court papers that the rabbi had never been deeply in debt.
The postal inspector, Greg Ghiozzi, said that Rabbi Youlus had taken more than $340,000 of the $1.2 million collected by the charity, including at least $145,000 he had diverted into his own bank account. Mr. Ghiozzi spelled out how Rabbi Youlus had used the money to pay for private school tuition for his children and for personal expenses, including meals and health care.