Rabbi Steals $6 million in Tax Dollars

NEW YORK CITY A prominent rabbi and a public school board conspired in a 20-year scheme that siphoned more than $6 million in taxpayer money to a private Jewish school and its affiliates, authorities said. Rabbi Hertz Frankel pleaded guilty to conspiring with Public School District No. 14 to place about 80 Hasidic women in no-show jobs on the district payroll, investigators said. The plea earned Frankel 3 years probation and a restitution order of $1 million, which the chief investigator termed a "corrupt bargain."

The scheme involved giving the women - some with as many as 10 children - family health insurance benefits while their paychecks were often handed over to Frankel. Many were on the district payroll as school security guards. Most of that money was then given to the Beth Rachel School in Brooklyn, where Frankel is a principal. The school bills itself as the largest Jewish girls' school in the world.

In exchange, Frankel assured district administrators that they had the support of a critical bloc of Hasidic men on the 9-member public school board.

Prosecutors investigated for 6 years. Two former district superintendents implicated in the investigation died without being charged. Three lower-level district administrators pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges related to the scheme, which ran from the mid-1970s to 1994.


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