International - POSTED: 2008/06/30 13:44
A Tel Aviv-based banker with United Mizrahi Bank pleaded guilty to setting up secret bank accounts in Israel that, prosecutors say, helped charitable contributors to an orthodox Jewish group evade US taxes.
Joseph Roth, 66, pleaded guilty over the weekend to one count of conspiracy, US Attorney Thomas O'Brien in Los Angeles said in an official statement. A second defendant, Rabbi Moshe E. Zigelman, 60, of Brooklyn, New York, has agreed to plead guilty to his part in the scheme that defrauded the US out of millions of dollars in tax revenue, according to the statement.
Ross and Zigelman were among eight people indicted in December for tax fraud and money laundering. The group was accused of soliciting millions of dollars for the "Spinka'' charities and secretly refunding 95 percent of the donations.
The money was funneled back to the contributors through a network of businesses in the Los Angeles jewelry district and through Israeli bank accounts, prosecutors said. Eric Dobberteen, a lawyer representing Roth, and David Willingham, a lawyer for Zigelman, didn't immediately return calls to their office. The case is US v. Naftali Tzi Weisz et al, 06-775, US District Court, Central District of California