Vienna – In a shocking twist, A prominent Charedi millionaire Chaim M. Strulovitz was released from jail yesterday after an Austrian judge granted the 61 year old Strulovitz a conditional sentence allowing him to walk free.Join our WhatsApp group
Strulovitz was arrested in the U.S. Lakewood, New Jersey in June 2008 for running afoul of the Austrian government, and was extradited back to Austria after being on the run for years, and was put on trial.
During the first three days of the trial at the district court in Vienna, Mr. Strulovitz refused to give evidence about the fraud charges dating back to the 90’s. Strulovitz is cited to have said: “According to my jewish religion, I am not allowed to give evidence against anyone else. This is very, very serious for us”
On the fourth day, he pleaded guilty, admitting that he was the head of a conglomerate of firms that defrauded some individuals.
In a mild verdict, which surprised even the best-informed court observers, he was condemned to ten months jail without probation plus twenty months with a probation period of three years. He was set free immediately, since he had already served the sentence in custody. The judged also fined him with $200,000.
The previously iron clad indictment would of seen Strulovitz face a ten year jail sentence.
The sentence was commuted to 30 months in jail of which 20 have been served and the rest served either in investigative detention or rendition.
Mr. Strulovitz a major supporter of Satmar institutions received emotional support from The Satmar rebbe, of Williamsburg Rabbi Zalman Leib Teitelbaum Shlita. Mr. Strulovitz was also a strong confidant of the previous Satmar Rebbe, Rabbi Moshe Teitelbauum Zt’l Author Of Beirach Mosha.
Rabbi Tetilbaum expended major efforts and explored different ways to release Strulovitz, including by hiring top lawyers. Nevertheless, everyone feared that the Strulovitz would be sentenced to may years in prison.
Several months ago, Rav Yaakov Ber Teitelbaum, the son of the rebbe and rav of the Sighet beis midrash in Boro Park, and the Horodenka rebbe from Manchester, flew over to assist in the court case.
With the assistance of the renown Williamsburg askan, Rav Moshe David Niederman, the rabbis met with the judge and explained that the Mr. Strulovitz had no intention to cause harm to the country and was deserving of clemency.
During one of the trial hearings, Rav Yaakov Ber surprised the prosecution when he gave a heartrending speech in favor of the defendant. The prosecution agreed to work out a plea bargain with the lawyers, in which he would pay a fine and sit in prison only one year.