Sunday, December 11, 2005

Say It Aint So Young Israel, Please Say It Aint So!

Spitzer's Office: We Found 'Significant' Problems At Young Israel

The office of New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer was riven by an investigation of an Orthodox synagogue organization, but the one thing all members of the attorney general's office agree on is that the office found "significant" problems at the synagogue organization that have not previously been disclosed publicly.

Spitzer's office began looking at the organization, the National Council of Young Israel, in 1999, when the council made a routine application to the attorney general for a new mortgage. The mortgage was for a nursing home operated by the National Council in a suburb of New York City. The inquiry, routine in the case of a refinancing application by a non-profit, soon uncovered a $6.5 million liability that the nursing home had to the New York department of health.

The investigation was passed to the attorney general's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, which, prior to 2002, identified some $215,000 in illegal loans made to the organization's former president, Chaim Kaminetsky, who was also the administrator of the nursing home. Those loans, which contravened state charity law according to the attorney general's office, were paid back, some before the investigation and some afterward. In addition to the loans, the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit identified close to $5,000 in payments on behalf of Kaminetsky's relatives.

The attorney general's office also identified $130,000 in payments that went to the National Council's executive vice president, Pesach Lerner, and were not backed up with contemporaneous documentation. The National Council provided explanations to the attorney general's office for many of these payments, including $50,000 that was described as a loan to Lerner, and $25,000 described as an adjustment for sick days, according to the attorney general's office. In the end, $20,000 was not accounted for and the attorney general's office decided to hand the case over to state and federal tax authorities.

Spitzer also said that the National Council had governance problems that his office worked to correct.

A lawyer for the National Council declined to respond to specific allegations. In declining to respond, the attorney cited an earlier article written by the Forward that contained a factual error, corrected a week later, about the sale of the National Council's headquarters building in Manhattan.

"We are surprised by your new convoluted inquiries which appear to have been suggested by those with various axes to grind," wrote Kenneth Fisher, a lawyer for the National Council.

"We are proud of the work done by our professional staff, rabbis, lay board and volunteers, including the planned sales of some of our real estate interests which were approved by Attorney General Spitzer's office after extensive review of our operations and procedures, and which will enable us to continue our services to our more than 150 member congregations for many years to come."

Multiple messages left at Chaim Kaminetsky's home and office, seeking comment, were not returned. Kaminetsky left( was asked to Leave) the National Council and works today as the president of the Highland Care Center, a nursing home in Jamaica, N.Y.

Only one element of the attorney general's investigations of the National Council has previously been made public. In 2002, the National Council needed the attorney general's approval when it decided to sell its Manhattan headquarters, which also housed a member synagogue, the Young Israel of Fifth Avenue. The synagogue sued to block the sale. Some members of the attorney general's office were also opposed to allowing the sale.

The dispute was settled in August 2005, when a member of the Young Israel of Fifth Avenue agreed to buy the building and allow the synagogue to remain. As a condition for the attorney general's approval of the sale, the National Council agreed in court documents to use $4 million from the proceeds to set up a trust that cannot be dissolved until the nursing home Medicaid liability is repaid to the state.

The liability had been accrued after the nursing home was granted not-for-profit tax status in the 1980s. Medicaid payments are calculated, in part, based on tax payments, and as a result the exemption should have lowered the nursing home's reimbursement rate. According to a letter from the National Council's lawyers, the organization was told in the 1980s that the department of health would lower its reimbursement rate, but the department never did so.

The attorney general's office says that after the liability was uncovered, the state department of health began recouping the money by withholding a set amount from Medicaid payments to the National Council's nursing home. To date, the attorney general's office said that $1.5 million of the liability has been recovered.

Some members of the National Council's governing bodies have said that even after the attorney general's involvement with the National Council, governance problems have continued at the organization. A lawsuit regarding the governance of the National Council was filed earlier this year by a member of the National Council's delegate's assembly — the organization's top governing board below the board of directors. The suit, filed by Ira Sturm, whose father is a former executive vice president of the National Council, said the National Council leadership had violated the organization's constitution by not allowing for proper oversight.

The National Council's constitution mandates that the delegates assembly meet at least three times a year, approve the budget once a year and elect a president every two years. According to Sturm's lawsuit, none of these conditions have been fulfilled since the current president took over in 2000. Sturm, who belongs to a Young Israel synagogue in Woodmere, N.Y., withdrew the lawsuit earlier this year and declined to comment on it. But another member of the delegates assembly — from the Young Israel of Fifth Avenue — said that the points Sturm made about the delegates assembly were still true.

"They really should be held to a higher standard," said Victor Bellino, who was president of the Young Israel of Fifth Avenue from 2000 until earlier this year, and a member of the delegates assembly during that time.

Bellino, whose synagogue will become independent of the National Council under the deal worked out in the sale of the Manhattan property, said, "I'm glad we're getting away from them."

UOJ Comments

Chaim Kaminetzky, has a long list of questionable financial dealings going back to the 1970's.

Why the Young Israel organization has kept him on is anyone's guess.

He is the same Chaim Kaminetzky that runs the Pesach program in California, and about one thousand people trust him with a reliable "kosher for Pesach" program.
When one has questionable financial dealings, and " borrows" money from a national organization and has not yet been able to "clarify" the accounting entries, CAN WE RELY ON SUCH A PERSON FOR KASHRUTH?



Anonymous NYC Lawyer said...

your five times as bad as anyone you blog about. Anybody who has been libeled by this site can figure out your identity in seconds, just file suit. I would do it pro bono..lol

Sunday, December 11, 2005 10:52:00 PM  
Blogger Un-Orthodox Jew said...

You guys are full of shit....the only thing you do without a fee is take a piss on hard working people.

Sunday, December 11, 2005 10:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

uoj has a foul temper, obviously only motivated by righteous indignation.

When his family uses lawyers as bulldogs he doesn't complain. That's different. That's daddy.

Sunday, December 11, 2005 11:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I suspect most nursing homes are committing abuses - and nobody is on to that more than the Medicaire Fraud unit and the IRS.

National organizations make loans to senior employees all the time, including, incidentally for the purchase of houses. Far from being "kept" these are incentives for the executive to keep productive.

If UOJ wants transparency and oversight from every organization, he should volunteer as a moser for the IRS.

a great idea.

Sunday, December 11, 2005 11:53:00 PM  
Blogger Un-Orthodox Jew said...

Most national organizations DO NOT OWN AND OPERATE NURSING HOMES.

The reason the Medicaid Fraud Unit is investigating is because it is illegal to use Medicaid funds other than for the intended purpose.

Sunday, December 11, 2005 11:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is the the sum and substance of this blog that all organized religion is a scourge on civilized mankind?

Monday, December 12, 2005 12:12:00 AM  
Blogger Un-Orthodox Jew said...

Not ALL but much!

Monday, December 12, 2005 12:36:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

National organizations fall into two categories, those who insist "we are not in the nursing home business" and those who pay taxes on "unexempt, unrelated income."

An intelligent non profit would benefit from outside income production to limit the amount of toadying they have to do with arrogant rich folk like jou.

You can't know what really goes on - in the nursing home industry and ncyi, unless you are on the inside.

Naturally, uoj is so important, such a macher, such a bigshot, he knows everything.

Monday, December 12, 2005 7:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Boog said...

Hey hotshot NYC Lawyer;

If you're looking for pro-bono, go down to the Village and have one of the feigelach stick his bono up your ass (for best results tell him not to use vaseline or KY jelly).

Really incredible to see all of these apologists consistently coming out of the woodwork and window-washing blatant Geneivah and Redifah.

The Nursing Home Business is well-known for being a money cesspool.

No wonder Otisville has full Sephard and Ashkenazi Minyanim, Glatt Kosher Cuisine, and Daf Yomi given three times a day.

You probably have a stable of clients up there, hot-shot.

Wanna do a Mitzvah? Focus your time on getting your guys up there conjugal visits so they leave each other alone.

Monday, December 12, 2005 8:31:00 AM  
Blogger Un-Orthodox Jew said...


You are good, very, very good.
I appreciate the few blog friends that I have.
Don't you notice that most guys stick up for the crooks?
A lawyer telling ME right from wrong, ha, a joke.
Hey lawyer, the only lawyer I ever liked was when I went to his funeral.( I always went to the cemetery just to make sure they really threw him in the ground to be with his fellow worms)

Monday, December 12, 2005 10:58:00 AM  
Blogger Un-Orthodox Jew said...

Anon, 7:35,

Monday, December 12, 2005 11:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Boog said...

No prob, UO.

It's good that you're on the case.

Thanks to you and David K. for the links to Haaretz.com. Well-written and non-slant.

BTW, Rabbi Savitsky travels up to Ossining at least once a month to give Chizuk to the troops. Lawyer might want to hitch a ride.

Monday, December 12, 2005 11:42:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A sad observation, and one I thought I'd never make, but it seems that the Reform - who wouldn't recognize the Choshen Mishpot if it fell out the sky and hit them - probably fulfill more of its dinim out of pure menshlikeit and being "good citizens" than our "Orthodox brothers" who ignore it and consider it perhaps the least important of the arba turim.

Monday, December 12, 2005 11:49:00 AM  
Blogger Un-Orthodox Jew said...

Anon, 11:49,

What a bomb of an observation.
I always felt that way, but you worded it exactly to my sentiments, unfortunately.

Monday, December 12, 2005 2:38:00 PM  
Anonymous seeker said...

To our lawyer friend, All this blog does is report whats already in the news,or known.Mr spitzer is investigating . These people should be investigated.It will keep them honest. If fear of heaven doesn't, perhapes 5 years in prison will.Why not defend the innocent people who put their money into bogus mutual funds, and lose their pants in the process. Wheres your pro bono now.You main purpose is to protect the fat cats so that you can fill your fat belly with more beef. Get off your high horse.These blogs report wahts already known in the news. Where did you get your law degree
from a comic book ad.I hate to break it to you, people are getting convicted for fraud and its not anti semitism,it plain old
geneiva.Perhapes 5 years in prison will instill some fear of heaven in some guys who did not get from their Rosh yeshivas.

Monday, December 12, 2005 8:56:00 PM  
Blogger Un-Orthodox Jew said...

Yes Sireeeee!!!!

Monday, December 12, 2005 9:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

uoj appreciates his friends on this blog.

He doesn't have many real ones.

Monday, December 12, 2005 10:24:00 PM  
Anonymous seeker said...

to anony 10:24: your a genious.
Can't come up with something original. Your intellect is out of this world.Tremendous insight.brilliant observation.

Monday, December 12, 2005 10:28:00 PM  
Anonymous gross said...

Clearly NOT a lawyer... it's only libel if it's untrue. As always, not ONE thing UOJ writes has been disproven.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005 11:38:00 AM  
Anonymous boog said...

See the on-line Chevra pictures from last Passover?

Doesn't Chaim K. look real cool on his golf cart in his Hawaiian Shirt?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005 12:55:00 PM  
Blogger Un-Orthodox Jew said...


Thanks, I need an encouraging word here & there.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005 3:39:00 PM  
Blogger Un-Orthodox Jew said...

The piece of Medicaid turd would NOT explain the five grand he took and gave to his relatives.

Sure, I trust him, with feeding Lipa Margulies.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005 3:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Get real, the article has only touched the tip of the iceberg.

Monday, March 20, 2006 10:44:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home