Manhattan, NY – A singer who claimed to have the stardom of Michael Jackson in Israel was sentenced to one to three years prison today for stealing $36,000 from a Washington Heights woman.
The 50-year-old singer, scammed the money from his victim — a fellow Orthodox Jew — by promising he would invest it in a coveted Torah scroll, which he said he would acquire through his connections in Israel.
Instead, he took the money and ignored demands from the victim and her family to return it.
The woman said she intended to give the Torah to her now deceased husband, who was ill and unable to leave the house to worship.
He was found guilty of grand larceny and harassment at trial. When he testified he described himself as a major music celebrity overseas.
“It wasn’t fifty thousand it was only a few — they exaggerated,” he allegedly said when he was arrested on Feb. 17, 2008, according to court documents.
“I’ve got mafia, I’ve got guns. You don’t want to mess with me.”
At his sentencing today, his lawyer asked for a reduced sentence of only six months, with probation to follow.
But Manhattan Supreme Court Judge said that he should have to pay for the stress and agony he caused the victim’s family.
The funds were not returned until today, when he handed over a check to prosecutors in court.
The victim’s son said his mother is very relieved that the ordeal is over.
Outside the courthouse, the lawyer defended his client’s questionable status as a member of the Orthodox clergy. The lawyer said that he is a trained rabbi, but does not have his own congregation.