February 2, 2012; Source: The Washington Post | Rabbi Menachem Youlus, who has in the past described himself as the “Jewish Indiana Jones,” pled guilty to mail and wire fraud yesterday in U.S. District Court, admitting that he lied when he claimed that he had personally rescued vintage Torah scrolls in Europe and Israel for six years. In fact, Youlus, who headed the Save a Torah charity, rarely left the United States over those years and would simply buy Torahs from dealers in the U.S. which he would then resell for as much as $32,000. In the end, he defrauded the charity out of $862,000.
Prosecutors charged him with concocting tales of derring do in which he recovered Torahs lost or hidden during the Holocaust, and placing a third of the $1.2 million he raised into “his personal accounts, spending some of it on private school tuition for his children and on personal expenses, including meals and health care.”
Youlus’ attorney, Benjamin Brafman, called his client “a good man with the best of intentions who ultimately strayed into fraudulent conduct that he now accepts full responsibility for.”
“Despite the serious nature of his crime,” Brafman added, “this otherwise fundamentally decent man should be sentenced with great leniency.” We’ll leave the sentencing to the courts, but clearly Youlus is no mensch.–Ruth McCambridge