Rabbi Who Ripped Off School Won’t Go To Prison

 

Photo Credits: Asbury Park, New Jersey

A rabbi from New Jersey was found guilty of laundering $200,000 from a private school for children with developmental disabilities. Osher Eisemann, 62, got a sentence which is below the government’s minimum sentencing guideline. The rabbi was sentenced Monday afternoon to two years probation. In this case, religion has once again been used as an excuse for someone who wants to avoid appropriate sentence for his illegal actions.

Osher Eisemann founded the Lakewood-based School for Children with Hidden Intelligence during the 1990s, inspired by his own son’s special needs. He was found guilty in February of second degree charges of money laundering and misconduct by a corporate official at the close of a four-week trial.

Two years ago, the rabbi used $200,000 in school funds in a money laundering scheme designed to make it appear that he used personal funds to repay debts he owed to the School for Children with Hidden Intelligence, the attorney general’s office said.

The NJ.com reports:

The second degree charges can carry sentences of five to 10 years in state prison, but Judge Benjamin Bucca found the mitigating factors outweighed the aggravating factors in the sentencing, moving him to hand down the rare sentence of probation, which skirted mandatory minimums.

“At this stage in this man’s life, I cannot imagine that this situation could ever occur again,” Bucca said. “The seriousness of the allegations and the harm that occurred is much less than what this court typically sees with other second degree crimes.”

The jury acquitted Eisemann of other charges, including corruption of public resources, theft by unlawful taking and misapplication of entrusted property. The private school’s fundraising foundation, Services for Hidden Intelligence, LLC, was also acquitted of all charges against it, authorities said.

As part of his probation, Eisemann cannot be involved with finances at the school or fundraising, must serve 60 days in the Middlesex County Correctional Facility and pay a fine of $250,000.

Eismann’s attorney, Lee Vartan, said that he considers the sentence “a partial win and certainly a good outcome.”

Bucca said the letters sent by Eisemann’s supporters “overwhelmed” him, and that he had not seen such a showing of support in his years sitting as a criminal judge. The judge also said the rabbi’s “selfless life is very clear. In many respects this is a very, very unfortunate situation.” He hopes Eisemann can return to the school, despite the second degree conviction, and hopes the state Department of Education will consider making an exception, given Eisemann’s decades-long reputation.

Making exceptions in cases where religious leaders are accused of a crime are not so rare. Should these type of exceptions be allowed to become the rule?

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