TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — The Latest on a New Jersey public welfare benefits fraud case (all times local):
A judge has ordered a rabbi and his wife charged in a public welfare fraud scheme to be released from jail pending trial.
Rabbi Zalmen Sorotzkin and his wife, Tzipporah, were charged Monday with collecting more than $338,000 in benefits prosecutors say they weren’t entitled to.
Their attorney, Edward Bertucio, said the couple is pleading not guilty and will seek exoneration in court.
The judge also ordered another couple who prosecutors say wrongly collected more than $585,000 in benefits released pending trial.
All four defendants who appeared in state court were ordered to surrender their passports.
Two other couples were charged in federal court with similar charges.
One of the four couples charged with taking public assistance benefits they weren’t entitled to has appeared in federal court.
Yocheved and Shimon Nussbaum appeared in front of a judge in Trenton.
They will be released on $100,000 bond each and their travel will be restricted to the New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Prosecutors say they hid their income by creating companies that they controlled but that were run by relatives. They say they received Medicaid, Section 8 and food benefits they weren’t entitled to.
Their lawyer declined to comment after the hearing.
Authorities say four couples, including a New Jersey rabbi and his wife, have been charged in a conspiracy to defraud Medicaid and other public assistance programs of over $1 million.
Prosecutors said Monday the state and federal charges were the first of many arrests in the investigation.
Rabbi Zalmen Sorotzkin of Congregation Lutzk in Lakewood and his wife were charged with collecting more than $338,000 in benefits prosecutors say they weren’t entitled to. They were charged in state court along with another couple, who prosecutors say collected more than $585,000 in benefits.
They were scheduled to appear in court Monday. No one answered the phone at the synagogue.
A separate federal criminal complaint charges two other married couples with conspiring to fraudulently obtain Medicaid and housing and food assistance benefits.
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