Charges Of Embezzlement Against Save-A-Heart Foundation

I received this letter:

At this time people are focusing on the problems with Drew Medical Center. Accusations are being flung towards any person who has ever had any association with Drew Medical.

Did you know that a similar problem is quietly occurring a Cedars Sinai?

Did you know that one woman by herself has embezzled as much as $1 million from the Save-A-Heart Foundation — a non-profit organization?

Did you know that she wrote checks to herself and her husband to cover their gambling debts and their hidden lifestyle?

Did you know that no one ever overlooked her books or had a qualified CPA review the account?

Did you know that this money could have been used to educate more heart surgeons instead of paying for a high-flying gambling drinking lifestyle?

Did you know that the highest parts of Cedars Sinai know about this?

Did you know that almost all of the board of directors have quit because of this and because they do not have D&O insurance?

Did you know that this woman took the check book home every night?

Did you know that she would not let anyone review her books?

Did you know that a member of the board of directors quit when he could not get an independent party to review the books?

My email to the Save-A-Heart foundation was not answered.

I’ve been encouraged to interview Laurie Hauser and her husband Cesar Veliz to learn more about this story. Also, a "Dr. Charuzi."

A source writes:

Dear Luke, I know Dr. Yizhar Charuzi (He is an Israeli). He is a very well known and well respected Cardiologist who is heading Save a Heart in California. I know some of the board members: Dr Ivor Geft from BJ gives weekly Torah Shiur as well. Dr. Dr. Steven Tabak (former President of BJ) Dr. Asher Kimchi (Israeli, davens at BJ) They are board members at Save a Heart. All respected cardiologist at Cidars Sinai.


There is no doubt in my mind that none of them knew about the embezzlement. They are honorable doctors saving lives on a daily basis. I know them all and vouch for them personally. They all got involved to help Yizhar bring Israeli Cardiologist to Cedars and train them in the newest techniques of heart surgery. I have known some of the trainees as well. I also know some of the regular donors of this worthy organization. If someone embezzled surely they knew nothing of it. The woman who did this has to be held accountable for this horrible crime. The organization needs to keep doing its important work and the above doctors are fault free and should be commended for their kindness and Chessed.


The Jewish Journal’s Brad A. Greenberg reports (without noting I broke this story nine days ago):

Los Angeles police last week began looking into the possible embezzlement of more than $700,000 from the Save A Heart Foundation, a nonprofit affiliated with Cedars-Sinai Medical Center that offers paid fellowships to Israeli cardiologists who want to study under specialists at the Westside hospital.

A Save A Heart Foundation board member raised concerns about financial irregularities in May 2006, after the foundation’s longtime administrative assistant began an extended sick leave. Cedars officials were notified, and the hospital’s internal auditing department began an investigation, identifying between $700,000 and $900,000 worth of questionable expenditures by the administrative assistant, according to hospital spokesman Rich Elbaum.

This past March, Cedars officials met with the board of Save A Heart and, Elbaum said, "recommended that they obtain separate counsel, notified them of their obligation to report as a nonprofit organization missing funds to the state attorney general and urged them to report it to the police as well."

But the foundation did not contact the Los Angeles Police Department until Aug. 30, the same day The Journal called asking about the alleged bilking. The press secretary for California Attorney General Jerry Brown said Save A Heart has not filed documents and disclosures that are required of all nonprofits since 2005. The foundation was recently sent a notice of delinquency.

According to Greenberg’s story, the LAPD only got involved four days after I broke this story.

About Luke Ford

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