Brooklyn DA Fails To Seek Extradition Of Hasidic Abuser Who Fled To Israel

The Village Voice has a compelling report written by Kristen Lombardi documenting the abuses of Avorhom Mondrowitz, the hasidic psychologist and radio show host is is accused of abusing dozens of young boys in Brooklyn until he fled arrest for israel in 1985. New victims have come forward after reading about the Mondrowitz case in New York Magazine. Charles Hynes, Brooklyn’s DA since 1990, has steadfastly refused to press for extradition, just as he has allegedly protected other haredi abusers, preferring to allow haredi rabbis to police their own. The reason for Hynes’ largesse? Haredi block-voting under the control of those same “self-policing” rabbis, the same ones that “self-policed” Rabbi Yehuda Kolko as he continued to abuse dozens of young boys.

Perhaps the best point in the whole article is made – unintentionally – by Aron Twerski, the dean of Hofstra Law School, haredi rabbi and self-proclaimed advocate against haredi sex abuse. Twerski most recently surfaced in an attempt to protect Rabbi Lipa Margulies and his yeshiva from fallout over the Kolko scandal. Margulies by many accounts knew of Kolko’s abuse yet kept him employed as a teacher of young boys and defended him from victims and their advocates. Lombardi writes:

Twerski, of Hofstra, advocates “zero tolerance” in the community for sexual abuse. But when told about the newly vocal Mondrowitz victim and his desire to reopen the case, Twerski replies, “I don’t know what to say about that. That’s an old, old case and I’m not going to comment on it.”

Another interesting point, this one with a Chabad connection:

Hynes has worked hard to court the community over the years. In 1990, he became the first D.A. in the city to convene a Jewish advisory council, which kept leaders abreast of cases involving Jewish defendants or complainants. The council is now defunct, says Schmetterer, replaced by the office’s full-time liaison to the Hasidic community, Henna White, herself a Lubavitcher. (He refused to let the Voice interview White for this article, saying, “It wouldn’t be her place to talk about this case.”)

Of course it would not be her place to talk – she can’t violate the haredi Omerta.

The New York Post’s coverage is here.

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8 Comments

Filed under Crime, Haredim, Israel

8 responses to “Brooklyn DA Fails To Seek Extradition Of Hasidic Abuser Who Fled To Israel

  1. Henech

    It’s an awful story, but you’re skipping the answer to your question: The extradition treaty between Israel and the US simply doesn’t provide for extradition here. Sof posuk.

  2. In fact the current extradition treaty between Israel and the US clearly does allow extradition in this case.

    Why is Hynes choosing to do nothing while trying to make us believe otherwise?

    It’s Brooklyn and that’s how things work there.

    Read this:

    Critics Question Contributions to Brooklyn DA’s Campaign Fund
    By Jeneen Interlandi
    March 6, 2006
    http://columbiajournalist.org/rw1_freedman/2005/article.asp?subj=city&course=rw1_freedman&id=789

    On a warm Friday evening in April of 2001, Isaac Chehebar was winding
    down from what had been a very typical day for him. He had just
    returned from visiting his grandmother, as he did every Friday before
    sundown and the Jewish Sabbath, when he ran into Abraham Feldman, a
    friend from the Gravesend neighborhood in southern Brooklyn, where
    Chehebar lived with his parents and siblings.

    Feldman had been driving around in his father’s 2000 Porsche Carrera,
    and he invited Chehebar to take it for a spin. Moments later,
    onlookers and other motorists would witness the 20 year old racing
    through the quiet neighborhood’s streets, at speeds ranging from 50
    to 65 miles per hour.

    “I thought I was so cool with that car,” Chehebar later recalled,
    “that I could drive any way I wanted to – in and out of lanes.”

    Ocean Parkway has a speed limit of 30 miles per hour, partly because
    the median separating the main artery from the adjacent service road
    doubles as a neighborhood park. On pleasant days it fills up with
    pedestrians, mostly area residents making their way to and from the
    nearby shopping district. Chehebar’s joy-ride included at least two
    laps up and down this parkway, where people were sure to notice him
    driving the silver sportscar.

    It was on the second lap, after Chehebar had made a U-turn and was
    driving south, that Rima Shetman noticed him. The light at the
    intersection of Ocean Parkway and Avenue X had turned red, and she
    was waiting to cross the street with her husband Aleksandr and
    daughters Inna and Svetlana. “Look at this guy,” she said, as
    Chehebar approached the red light. It was the last thing 15-year-old
    Inna and her 10-year-old sister Svetlana would hear their mother say.

    Chehebar had been weaving in and out of each lane to keep the Porsche
    moving through the mildly congested traffic. When he reached the
    intersection where Rima Shetman stood with her family, he was
    traveling more than 50 miles per hour, according to the motorists he
    passed, and there were no openings ahead of him. To avoid a car that
    had the right-of-way and was clearing the intersection from the
    opposite direction, he cut the wheel hard to the right, losing
    control of the Porsche, sliding into the median and striking Inna,
    Svetlana and Rima Shetman. Aleksandr Shetman ran after the Porsche,
    screaming, as it carried his family several feet before coming to a
    stop against a park bench and a tree.

    The force of the impact killed Inna Shetman instantly; her sister
    Svetlana died hours later at Coney Island Hospital. Their mother,
    Rima Shetman, sustained major trauma to her head and torso along with
    multiple fractures in her arms and paralysis of her right leg. She
    would survive only after several tenuous months at Lutheran Medical
    Center.

    When the car finally came to a stop, Chehebar stepped out, over the
    body of Inna Shetman. He and Feldman had escaped with cuts and
    bruises.

    On May 25, 2001, a grand jury at New York State Supreme Court in
    Brooklyn indicted Chehebar on 11 counts, including two each of
    second-degree manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide.
    Although a conviction on these charges would have been enough to
    warrant several years behind bars, Brooklyn District Attorney Charles
    Hynes arranged a plea bargain with Chehebar that spared him a lengthy
    prison sentence. On Feb. 26, 2002 Chehebar pleaded guilty to both
    counts of criminally negligent homicide in exchange for which Hynes
    dropped the remaining nine charges and sought a six-month sentence as
    opposed to a six-year sentence. Chehebar ultimately served four
    months on Rikers’ Island, from March to July of 2002, followed by two
    years of house arrest. He was also sentenced to 1,200 hours of
    community service and prohibited from driving for five years.

    In the years since Isaac’s plea bargain, nearly $80,000 has flowed
    from friends, neighbors and business associates of the Chehebar
    family to Hynes’s campaign coffers. In recent months, the plea
    bargain and subsequent donations have come under scrutiny by Hynes’s
    opponents, including State Sen. John Sampson and former Assistant
    District Attorney Arnold Kriss, both of whom attempted to unseat him
    during last September’s Democratic primary. In response to the
    allegations of misconduct, Hynes has pointed out that the victims’
    families, including Aleksandr Shetman who lost his only children,
    endorsed this deal.

    Between 2001 and 2005 more than 30 members of Sephardic Bikur Holim,
    the Brooklyn synagogue where the Chehebar family worships,
    contributed a total of nearly $80,000 to the Hynes campaign, as shown
    by comparing Hynes’s campaign-finance disclosures to the Sephardic
    Bikur Holim web site. The Chehebar family owns the well-known Rainbow
    Apparel shops based in Brooklyn and founded the Accessory Network
    Group, which does approximately $160 million in business annually
    according to Brandweek, an advertising-industry magazine that
    profiled the company.

    The family of MartinStein, vice president of the Accessory Network
    Group, gave $6,100. Weeplay Kids, a children’s clothing store owned
    by Alan Maleh, a fellow Sephardic Bikur member, contributed $10,100.
    The Chera family, also Sephardic Bikur members, donated $11,000 to
    Hynes. Sampson has called these donations “blood money,” adding, “It
    tells people that if you have money, you don’t have to face justice.”

    The allegations of impropriety come at a difficult time for the
    embattled district attorney, who has fended off two strenuous
    challenges to his incumbency in the years since he stuck a deal with
    Chehebar. In 2001, Sandra Roper, a little-known civil rights lawyer,
    won 37 percent of the vote, mounting the first credible challenge to
    Hynes’s decade-long tenure. Last year, State Sen. John Sampson won
    the same percentage, in a race pitting Hynes against three opponents.
    These near-misses were no small feat for Hynes’s challengers; to
    date, no incumbent district attorney in any of the five boroughs’
    history has ever been defeated for reelection. Moreover, Hynes is a
    well-known figure in Brooklyn politics, having garnered celebrity
    status and wide respect in 1986 as the special prosecutor in the
    well-publicized Howard Beach racial murder trial.

    Although Hynes and Maureen McCormick, the assistant district attorney
    who prosecuted this case both declined to be interviewed for this
    article, they have pointed out that the victims of the Chehebar
    accident supported the offer of a lighter sentence, agreeing that
    Chehebar deserved a “second chance,” according to court records.

    “Mr. Hynes feels very strongly that the victims of this crime should
    be heard in terms of whether or not they accept the disposition,”
    McCormick said at Chehebar’s plea hearing. She then asked Aleksandr
    Shetman, “Is it your intention, by accepting this plea offer, to
    extend to the defendant a second chance to get his life together and
    do some good out of this horrible incident?” Although Shetman
    answered yes, he later told the New York Post that he was
    disappointed and had only agreed because he worried that Chehebar
    would not be convicted in a trial.

    A review of press releases from the Brooklyn District Attorney’s
    office shows that six cases involving vehicular deaths were
    prosecuted by Hynes from 2000 to 2005. One of those cases resulted in
    “the longest sentence in state history for a sober driver who killed
    someone,” according to a press release from Hynes’s office. Hynes and
    McCormick won a second-degree murder conviction against Jon Paul
    Lazartes after his Mercedes crashed into another car, crushing its
    two passengers to death.

    “Let this be a clear message to these high-octane terrorists on the
    Belt Parkway and everywhere in Brooklyn, that you will be penalized
    in a similar fashion for this kind of behind-the-wheel-bedlam,” Hynes
    said of the 20-year sentence Lazartes received. Like Chehebar,
    Lazartes was 20 at the time of the accident and 21 at the time of
    sentencing.

    At the same time, almost everyone involved in the criminal justice
    system has an incentive to plea bargain. Because plea-bargained cases
    move faster – taking weeks to months instead of years – judges are
    able to better handle their over-booked courts. For prosecutors, plea
    bargains guarantee a conviction and wrapping up cases quickly
    conserves resources, which are often scarce. New York City district
    attorneys suffered budget cuts of 12 percent between 2001 and 2004,
    according to a report issued by the Citizens’ Union. Hynes’s office
    lost roughly 39 percent of its assistant district attorneys in the
    same time period.

    According to both Harvard and Yale Law Reviews, more than 90 percent
    of convictions in the U.S. come from pleas, many of which are
    negotiated. “Plea bargains are generally encouraged by the court
    system, and have become something of a necessity due to over burdened
    criminal court calendars and over-crowded jails,” according to Find
    Law, a web site that provides legal advice to non-professionals .

    On the day of his sentencing, Chehebar addressed the court. “I know
    no matter what I say to the family it will never bring back his
    daughters,” he said, “But this past year has been hell for me.” He
    also expressed appreciation for the leniency and asked Aleksandr
    Shetman for forgiveness, saying that he was “filled with guilt.”

    After four months on Riker’s Island , Chehebar returned home and went
    back to work for his family’s company. In July of 2003, he was caught
    trying to obtain a driver’s license. As punishment, Justice Anne
    Feldman of Kings County State Supreme Court, who oversaw his case,
    revoked his permission to spend weekends at his family’s shore house
    in New Jersey.

    In August of the same year, Chehebar was found guilty of cheating on
    his community service. Despite warnings from both McCormick and
    Feldman that any violations would result in jail time, he was
    sentenced to additional community service.

    In an interview from 2004, included with the court transcripts,
    Chehebar sought to portray himself, not as a criminal, but as another
    victim in the accident that killed Inna and Svetlana. “I felt I did
    not deserve the sentence I received,” he said. “I come from a good
    family with good values.”

  3. Anonymous

    There appears to be a ubstantial question as to whether the current treaty’s inclusion of this crime is retroactive. If it is not, then Hynes simply can not be blamed.

    As for the Lazartes case, he was indicted for travelling at speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour on the Belt Parkway, while drag racing another car travelling in excess of 100 miles per hour. The posted case alleges that the person was travelling about 20 miles per hour over the speed limit on Ocean Parkway. In my opinion he should be shot, but that is not the law and it indeed may be difficult to win a conviction for criminally negligent homocide based on going 20 miles over the speed limit. Further, the sentence may not have been much different after a conviction.

    Plea bargains are not pretty but they should be done based on professions judgment. There needs to be more evidence that something is amiss before Hynes can be accused of misconduct. The problem with Shmarya is that he is good on accusations but frequently unable to provide adequate proof, as here.

  4. >There appears to be a (s)ubstantial
    >question
    >as to whether the current treaty’s
    >inclusion of this crime is retroactive.
    >If it is not, then Hynes simply can not
    >be blamed.

    There is no such question. Clearly, the treaty applies to all those charged with crimes past and present. There is no problem with it being retroactive. Those who claim there is a problem with the treaty being retroactive need to explain how as I believe they have no idea what they are talking about.

  5. Hope this clarifies:

    An extradition treaty is to be given retroactive effect, absent an explicit reference in the treaty to the contrary.

    Here are some citations for that:
    Gallina v. Fraser, 177 F.Supp. 856, 864 (D.Conn.1959), aff’d 278 F.2d 77 (2d Cir.1960), cert. denied 364 U.S. 851, 81 S.Ct. 97, 5 L.Ed.2d 74 (1960), reh’g denied, 364 U.S. 906, 81 S.Ct. 238, 5 L.Ed.2d 199 (1960).

  6. The unfortunate sick reality is that our Jewish world is filled with coverups. Whether it be sexual abuse or false conversions. It’s just one more proof the rabbis have no fear of Hashem.

  7. NoDemonstrations

    Lubavitch is outside the NY haredi world at this point; Henna White (whoever she may be – not that I know everyone in CH, but is this a pseudonym?) is not speaking out more because of her job/politics than anything.

  8. Franji

    “Lubavitch is outside the NY haredi world at this point;
    Says NoDemonstrations”

    ….nor for that matter judaism world!

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