Synagogue treasurer stole thousands
Posted in the Shirley Forum
#1 Jun 29, 2011
In today's Newsday
After being called "a substantial flight risk," the treasurer of a Woodmere synagogue who was arrested at an area airport hotel Wednesday pleaded not guilty to charges he stole more than $600,000 from the Jewish house of prayer.
Isaac Zucker, 47, of Westwood Road, Woodmere, was ordered held on $300,000 bond or $150,000 cash bail.
As his wife and daughter looked on an arraignment judge also ordered Zucker to surrender his passport.
Zucker, arrested at 1:55 a.m. at the Long Island MacArthur Airport Holiday Inn, was in First District Court in Hempstead, and is charged with first-degree larceny.
Nassau County police said it was unclear if Zucker had booked a flight from MacArthur -- and said it was unclear how he was found.
Police said Zucker is the treasurer at Congregation Aish Kodesh in Woodmere, a makom tefillah, or place of prayer, founded in 1992.
As treasurer, authorities said, Zucker transferred more than $600,000 into his personal bank accounts. He was confronted last week by members of the congregation, police said.
Nassau police spokesman Det. Lt. Kevin Smith said Zucker was reported missing Friday by his wife and said a representative of the synagogue reported the embezzlement to police Tuesday in Hewlett.
Smith said police focused immediately on Zucker.
Smith said a forensics examination traced transfers of funds from the Aish Kodesh accounts directly to that of the law practice headed by Zucker.
The alleged embezzlement began in 2008, Smith said, and continued until this month.
A representative of the synagogue, which is on Woodmere Place and serves as both a shul or school and a center for Torah study, could not immediately be reached for comment.
In court Wednesday Manhattan attorney Bruce Wenger, who represents Zucker, entered a not guilty plea for his client -- and told the court Zucker is a life-long New Yorker who grew up in Far Rockaway and who has roots in Queens and Manhattan.
Wenger, who declined comment on specifics of the case, asked for reasonable bail.
Assistant Nassau District Attorney Marshall Trager, chief of the District Attorney's Government / Consumer Frauds Bureau, said the alleged theft is "so significant" Zucker should be remanded. Trager asked for a bail-sufficiency hearing, designed to ensure none of the proceeds of the alleged crime are used for bail purposes, but his request was denied.
Trager told the court Zucker "represents a substantial flight risk" after being arrested at the airport hotel Wednesday.
Zucker is due back in court on Tuesday, officials said.
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