Jacob Fetman vs Aish NY

A source emails:

With regards to the allegations against Jacob Fetman, an attorney familiar with the case points out that Justice Demarest in her decision to confirm Rabbi Cohen’s award of $20,000,000 (twenty million dollars), made it clear that she did not review the merits of the case – her focus was to confirm or reject this award. As it is the public policy in NY state to uphold arbitration awards and because of the fact that there were no transcripts of the arbitration sessions (4 sessions totaling 140 minutes) she had no choice but to confirm the award – despite her reservations about Fetman’s allegations of the many violations of his Due Process. For example, in court it was acknowledged that a forensic report, which R’ Cohen bases his award on, was never provided to Fetman and in fact, once the judge ordered Aish to produce it (April 25, 2015 – almost 18 months after the award was issued), it was found to be dated AFTER the last session and on the date of the AWARD. Clearly, there was no chance for Fetman to dispute any of its ‘findings’.

It is note worthy that a criminal complaint which was alleged by Aish against Jacob Fetman is still pending in Brooklyn Supreme court for the alleged theft of $236,000 over five years – Mr. Fetman plead Not Guilty to this allegation and a trial is pending.

While Aish is a wonderful organization, with a very important mission, in court papers it was alleged by Fetman that executive compensation was substantially under reported and disguised as activities. Rabbi Greenman’s compensation over 2012 reported as (aish 990 filing) $101,409 taxable income and an additional $94,000 non taxable income was in fact almost double that. David Markowitz’s taxable compensation of $62,500 with an additional $50,000 non taxable compensation was in fact about $150,000. 2013 reported income for Rabbi Greenman was $118,310 taxable and combined compensation (with non taxable compensation) $216,929. Aish chose not to divulge any other executive compensation.

If the allegation against Fetman is correct – Aish NY, an organization with an internal budget of about $3 million dollars annually could have not “noticed” that $1.2 million annually was being stolen from it?? Why is it that Aish will not submit to examination of the ‘forensic report’ – what was the rush to issue an award when an attorney intervened on behalf of Fetman?

See attached Justice Demarest’s decision that Aish must produce the ‘forensic report’ to Fetman – when it was acknowledged that Fetman never received it. The award was issued 12/17/2013 – This decision by the court is 4/25/2015.

See the attached DA statement – Aish NY used Fetman and Merkaz the Center as a funnel to transfer monies from Project Inspire to Aish NY. Hundreds of thousand of dollars were transferred this way.

Lastly, see Dan Stein’s (Fetman’s original attorney and now the Chief of the Criminal Division at the US attorney General’s Office NY Western District) letter to R’ Cohen right after the award was issued and another letter to Mel Zachter, a noted accountant who agreed to examine the ‘forensic report’ but Aish never agreed.

R. Cohen’s decision states that Fetman took property from Aish which was proven in court that those properties were purchased prior to Fetman even working at Aish. That part of the award was struck out by the judge. The confirmation is pending an appeal.

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As a recent article in the Forward states – its well known that Courts rubber stamp arbitration awards. Rabbi Greenman and his excellent attorneys took advantage of this perfectly.

G – Dan Stein letter to R Cohen 12 27 2013 Mel Zachter agreement 5 30 2014 brooklyn DA press release Jacob-Fetman-grand-larceny-indictment decision of judge demarest that aish must get me the report before the beis din session

Forensic Accountant report attached: lipnitsky forensic report transcript ebt 3-31-15 full-lipnitsky deposition decision of judge demarest that aish must get me the report before the beis din session (1)

Transcript of Lipnitsky’s deposition – in which he states hundreds of times “I Don’t remember”, “I took no notes”, There was no report”…

Aish and their attorney fought in court not to divulge the purported forensic report that Rabbi Cohen stated he saw and relied on that report for his award of $20,000,000

Attached is a decision from Justice Demarest dated April 25 2015 compelling Aish to show Fetman that forensic report. The Judge noticed that the report was dated December 17th 2013, well after the last session with Rabbi Cohen and was incredulous to hear that Fetman never received this report prior to Rabbi Cohen issuing his decision and award on December 17th. Lipnitsky also admitted discussing this case with Rabbi Cohen the evening before he issued the report, against all common practice that no discussions shall take place Ex Parte.

There are major errors and mistakes in the purported report – some of which are stated below:

Lipnitsky report

Exhibit 1 summarizes his findings – between the years 2006 – 2013

1. Unauthorized compensation – $174,202

2. Funds deposited into Unauthorized bank accounts: $ 1,697,523

3. Credit Card charges Personal – $ 462,787

4. Other $16,700

Total: $2,351,211 (This is the figure that they made to match R. Cohen’s reference when he states that the report claims that $2.4 million stolen from Aish. Also note that the report is dated December 17, when the psak itself was already faxed over December the 16th – based on R’ Cohen fax date stamp)

Issues with the report:

2006-2013

1. Unauthorized compensation states that two schools were paid as a part of Allowable Compensation

Masores BY – report claim $ 161,942 however – as can be learned from the school’s report (attached)
$131,473 was paid (difference of $30,469)

Tiferes Yisroel – Lipnitsky report claims $ 94,242 however as can be seen from the school’s report (attached) only $ 58,403 was paid (difference of $ 35,839)

Additionally, Health insurance premiums, totaling $ 95,733 were NOT a part of the compensation but an added benefit.

Fetman’s compensation 2006-2011 did NOT stay the same but was increased annually. 2012 – 2013 was $135,000 and not $125,000 as it shows on the report

Therefore – there is no basis to the claim of unauthorized compensation.

2. Lipnitsky’s report refers to a total of seven bank accounts as “Unauthorized bank accounts”

Project Inspire (Bank of America X4050) total deposited $1,200,052

Tomchei Torah (Bank of American X4322) total deposited $ 262,923

Jewish Speakers Group (Bank of America X8362) total deposited $ 64,581

Ahavas Israel (Bank of America X4513) Total deposited $ 4,975

Three other account are referenced –

Aish International – depositing funds totaling $ 139,967 into Merkaz account (Bank of America X5468)

Aish Missouri – depositing funds totaling $ 15,025 into Merkaz account (Bank of America X5468)

and Aish Center – depositing funds totaling $10,000 into Merkaz account (Bank of America X5468)

the last three entities (Aish International, aish MO and Aish Center) are separate and distinct 501c3 organizations, with their own board, management teams and accounting departments. These entities are NOT under Fetman’s control and never were. Its misleading and a complete falsehood to report these transactions as if they had anything to do with Aish NY. Certainly, Mr. Lipnitsky never even attempted to contact them as he stated in his deposition.

Project Inspire and Tomchei Torah are their own entities – Project Inspire was ALWAYS under Aish International (certificate of Incorporation attached) had its own staff, address, board of directors and fundraising and accounting systems. Lipnitsky’s letter refers to email dialog between Greenman and Yossi Friedman, the director of Project Inspire, requesting that Inspire pay more money towards Fetman’s compensation – clearly, Inspire is NOT under or a part of Aish NY.

Greenman claims that these accounts were ‘unauthorized’ yet clearly he knows and agrees to have Project Inspire use accounting services provided by Fetman. Greenman’s claims that the Project Inspire bank account was unauthorized – is unbelievable – how else can checks made out to Project Inspire be able to be deposited.

THE MOST EGREGIOUS OMISSION IS THAT IN THE LETTER LIPNISKY ACKNOWLEDGES CONFIRMING THAT APPROXIMATELY $450,000 WAS DEPOSITED BACK IN AISH ACCOUNT FROM MERKAZ, HOWEVER THE REPORT FAILS TO DEDUCT THAT AMOUNT FROM THE $2.35 MILLION REPORTED.

3. Credit Cards transactions reported to Lipnitsky by Aish as Personal – a total of $ 462,787
The report claims that EVERY charge at Staples was personal – approx. $200K over the 8 years! Likewise, charges from T-Mobile, Mountain Fruit, Home Depot, Lowes, Costco local coffee shops etc. are all marked as personal. Fetman NEVER had an account with T-Mobile only with Sprint and those transactions were authorized by others as legitimate aish expenses and not a part of Fetman’s compensation.

Specific business transactions, such as over 10,000 dollars copier lease expenses charged by De Lage Landen, were marked as personal expenses. See lease attached.
Simcha Kosher Caterers, which was an Aish caterer for an event in Austen Texas, were marked personal as well.

Fetman was personally in charge of all purchases, and Aish staff constantly used Fetman’s credit cards to have with them while on Aish run trips and student meetings. Many times staff meetings at local restaurants and eateries were charged to Fetman’s credit card by staff.

As much of the documentation is not available to us, we can not comment on the amex transactions. One credit card – Aish Plum card – which Lipnitsky’s report claims to have $147,919 personal charges 2010 thru 2013 was analyzed and concluded to have a total charges of $585,400. When deducting returns and refunds of $16,755 and legitimate Aish NY business transactions of $558,827, only $9817 of personal charges over the 4 year period exist.

4. Other Fetman Expenses:
$6700 over 2006 – 2013 Insurance payments to William Penn were authorized and not a part of Fetman’s compensation.

Conclusion:
Lipnitsky’s report which spans 8 years, and reports finding $2.35 million is a gross and malignant painting of the actual information. Even according to his own findings, its actually $1,900,000 (2.35 mil less than the $450K found returned to Aish). Even if we take 1.9 mil over 8 years and project to 17 years the total would be approximately $4 million – no where near $20 million. However – as stated, the ‘unauthorized accounts’ were fully authorized and fully scrutinized by Project Inspire and Greenman, so the 1.9 mil is no where near that amount.

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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