Rabbi, several others arrested in public benefits fraud case

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey rabbi and his wife and three other couples defrauded state and federal public assistance programs out of more than $1 million by underreporting their incomes, according to criminal complaints released Monday.

One of the couples continued to receive Medicaid assistance for their children despite making more than $1 million in both 2012 and 2013, according to one criminal complaint.

Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato said more arrests are expected as a result of the investigation.

Rabbi Zalmen Sorotzkin, of Congregation Lutzk in Lakewood, and his wife, Tzipporah, were charged with collecting more than $338,000 in benefits prosecutors said they weren’t entitled to. They were charged in state court along with Mordechai and Jocheved Breskin, who prosecutors said collected more than $585,000 in benefits.

The couples were scheduled to appear in court Monday afternoon. The phone at the synagogue rang unanswered Monday morning.

All reside in Lakewood, a town near central New Jersey’s shore that is home to a large Orthodox Jewish community.

A separate federal criminal complaint charged two other married couples with conspiring to fraudulently obtain Medicaid benefits, Section 8 housing benefits and food assistance benefits.

Yocheved and Shimon Nussbaum hid their income by creating companies that they controlled but that were run by relatives, the complaint alleged. The couple made approximately $265,000 in 2011, more than double the maximum allowed to receive Medicaid benefits and more than triple the maximum for Section 8 benefits, according to the complaint.

Mordechai and Rachel Sorotzkin allegedly made more than $1 million in 2012 and in 2013, yet the couple used Medicaid to pay for about $22,000 in medical expenses when their sixth child was born in November 2013, the complaint alleges.

The investigation was initiated by the FBI and the New Jersey Office of the State Comptroller. It later expanded to include U.S. Social Security Administration, the state Department of the Treasury and the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office.

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