Simon Jacobson of Crown Heights (not the famous Rabbi Simon Jacobson) defrauded an elderly woman out of her life savings. A fellow Chabadnik appears to have used infuence with the DA to get Jacobson off lightly. Leonard Levitt reports:
Fishy doings in DA’s office
July 20, 1998
More shenanigans from the office of absentee Brooklyn District
Attorney Joe Hynes, off tilting at windmills as he runs for governor.
On Dec. 8, Det. John Ryan of the New York City Police Department’s
Special Frauds squad arrested 29-year-old Simon Jacobson – arrest number
. Jacobson was charged with three counts of forgery and grand
larceny in connection with stealing $24,000 in checks from a Crown Street
neighbor in Brooklyn. Law enforcement sources say that when he was
arrested, Jacobson had the checkbook of his landlady, 80-year-old Bessie
In April, Rosen’s daughter Ethel Pollack and a neighbor, Avrohom
Wasserman, filed a guardianship application for Rosen in Brooklyn State
Supreme Court seeking to protect her from Jacobson. In it, Rosen is
described as lacking "the ability to make responsible financial decisions
or to pay her bills."
Jacobson, Rosen’s tenant since 1995, had "induced her to give away all
her resources and income, resulting in her imminent financial ruin,"
according to the application.
Jacobson had in the past three years looted Rosen’s entire life
savings of $200,000, the application says. He had also persuaded her to
re-mortgage her home – in which she had lived for 72 years and had owned
free and clear – for $191,000. The home is to be repossessed by the
Norwest bank this week because she can’t repay the loan.
Shortly after Jacobson’s arrest, however, interesting things began
happening in Hynes’ office. Law enforcement sources say Jacobson’s mother
telephoned Henna White, Hynes’ $60,000-a-year so-called liaison to
Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish community. To appreciate the significance of
White’s position, her predecessor Charles Posner, a non-practicing
prosecutor, was so well-connected to the Orthodox community that in 1996
Mayor Rudolph Giuliani took the unusual step of appointing Posner to the
bench to replace a sitting judge.
Jacobson’s case, meanwhile – docket number 97K096-078 – ended up
assigned to the supposedly elite Rackets Bureau, headed by Dennis
Hawkins, a Hynes workhorse for two decades.
Jacobson ended up represented by none other than White’s husband,
Asher, an attorney not listed in the telephone directory. Henna White
didn’t return phone calls.
On Jan. 15, Jacobson’s case was dismissed before Acting State Supreme
Court Judge Jerome M. Kay. As the reason, Hawkins cited "lack of
A law enforcement official noted that prosecutors have 45 days from
arrest to produce evidence for an indictment. "They didn’t wait for the
45 days before dismissing the case," he said. "They made a conscious
Hawkins added that attorney Michael Halberstam, not Asher White,
represented Jacobson at his dismissal. Halberstam said he could not
recall how Jacobson became his client.
Hawkins added that Jacobson’s case was dismissed "without prejudice,"
which means, he said, that Jacobson can be charged again. That’s
unlikely, as Jacobson has moved to Florida.
Apparently unaware that the DA’s office had dismissed Jacobson’s
criminal case, Rosen’s guardian petitioners sent a copy of their April
application to Hynes last week.
After delineating how shortly after moving into Rosen’s home, Jacobson began
securing $50 loans from her, then convinced her to turn over her checkbook and
to take out the $191,000 mortgage on her home, the application notes, "The
Kings County District Attorney’s office has documentation in their files to
substantiate much or all of the foregoing."
Henna White is the DA’s liaison to the Orthodox community. She deals with domestic violence cases, and "unofficially with other cases of abuse. She is widely perceived to be part of the problem, not part of the solution. Her actions in this case would seem to confirm that.
[Hat tip: Dr. R-F.]
UPDATE: Jacobson pleaded guilty in 2000. But there’s a catch:
Charity at Home. As with its relationship with the Brooklyn
district attorney’s office, the ways of Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish community
are sometimes unfathomable. Take the case of our old friend Simon Jacobson.
Your Humble Servant first reported in July, 1998, that Jacobson had passed
$20,000 worth of bad checks, defrauded the city’s welfare bureau of $56,000
and swindled an 80-year-old widow out of her $300,000 home but that DA Joe Hynes
declined to indict. At the time, Hynes was running for governor and needed the
support of the Orthodox Jewish community.
Indeed, Jacobson’s attorney then was Asher White, whose wife, Henna, served
as Hynes’s $60,000-a-year liaison to the Orthodox community.
Now, due to renewed efforts of the Police Department’s Special Frauds Squad-in
particular Sgt. Sean McCafferty and Det. John Ryan-Jacobson has pleaded guilty
to all of the above and is to be sentenced Friday in State Supreme Court in
Brooklyn. In return for 6 months in jail, he has agreed to make full restitution.
Now here’s where things become interesting. Jacobson’s $25,000 bail and the
bulk of his restitution are being paid by an Orthodox Jewish charity, Keren
Aniyim, of 1314 Avenue J in Brooklyn,which according to its latest filing with
the attorney general, raised $1,733,725 in contributions in 1998.
A person whose wife works as a volunteer for the charity in his Brooklyn advertising
office at that address says that "special donors" were approached
to help Jacobson. But why would a charity seek funds for an admitted swindler?
Its directors-Abraham Diamond, Jack Weinman, Hirsch Wulliger and Saul Perlstein,
all of Brooklyn-couldn’t be reached for comment.
UPDATE 2: A friend of the late Charles Posner writes to dispute Levitt’s characterization of Posner:
The late Charles Posner, a man I personally knew, was an upstanding straight-as-an-arrow, Modern Orthodox Jew who for many years served as deputy district attorney (the highest possible prosecutor position under the DA himself) under Charles Hynes. He maintained that position until he was appointed to the bench.
Charles Posner was a man who in his professional life showed absolutely no favoritism for his fellow Jews, and stood firmly by his honorable principles. He had no tolerance for dishonesty or crookedness.
His long, outstanding career and dedication as deputy district attorney, more than qualified him for criminal court judgeship. As the first (and only?) criminal court judge that happened to be Orthodox, he ruled the bench with an iron fist, continuously risking his own life for the sake of the public, locking up the lowest criminal element (drug dealers, murderers, rapists, etc.) making the streets of NYC safe.
When he passed away, without warning, several years ago he left behind a wonderful wife, children and grandchildren – all fine examples of accomplished and observant Jews.