Rabbi & Wife Who Stole Late Father’s Estate Guilty

A rabbi and his wife pleaded guilty to embezzling $150,000 from the estate of the rabbi’s father. The Albany Times Union reports:

A rabbi and his wife who were accused of pilphering a dead relative’s estate have staved off prison terms by agreeing to serve periods of probation and repay $150,000.

Mark and Debra Berger, both 50 … will be held jointly liable for restitution to the relatives who brought charges after a probate court repayment plan didn’t occur fast enough…

Mark Berger’s father lived with the couple for years… He gave them power of attorney to handle not only his affairs, but to help provide for them, [the couple’s atorney] explained: “After his death, Debra continued to exercise that power of attorney.”

The Albany County District Attorney’s office accused the couple of spending the money on trips to California, Florida and Israel, and on clothing, dinners out and jewelry. The alleged scam was discovered during the probate process, authorities said.

Although originally charged with second-degree grand larceny, and facing 5 to 15 years in state prison, if convicted, Debra Berger pleaded guilty to fourth-degree grand larceny on Tuesday, and will serve 5 years’ probation.

Mark Berger, also known as Moshe, and a rabbi without a congregation, faced 1 to 4 years behind bars if found guilty of first-degree falsifying a business record, a felony. However, the former kosher food inspector for Vaad HaKashruth of the Capital Region pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of petit larceny, and will serve three years of probation.…

The Bergers must hand over a check for $50,000 at their Jan. 30 sentencing and repay the $100,000 balance in amortized payments over five years…

The rabbi’s siblings apparently got the criminal prosecition when the rabbi didn’t repay the stolen money on schedule.

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1 Comment

Filed under Crime

One response to “Rabbi & Wife Who Stole Late Father’s Estate Guilty

  1. I remember spending a few shabbats with the Bergers last spring. Their home certainly wasn’t a mansion, and their car certainly wasn’t a luxury model.

    At them same time, I understand that vacations to Israel, California, and Florida are not cheap, and neither is top-rate private education. Looks can indeed be deceiving.

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