Lakewood Special Needs School Director guilty of money laundering
The founder and director of the School for Children with Hidden Intelligence (SCHI) in Lakewood has been found guilty of the second degree charges of money laundering and misconduct by a corporate official, announced New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal.
Rabbi Osher Eisemann, 62, was found guilty of those two charges by a Middlesex County jury following a four-week trial before Superior Court Judge Benjamin S. Bucca Jr.
The second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison.
The jury acquitted Eisemann of charges of first-degree corruption of public resources, second-degree theft by unlawful taking and second-degree misapplication of entrusted property.
The school’s fundraising foundation, Services for Hidden Intelligence, LLC, was acquitted of all charges against it.
Sentencing for Eisemann is scheduled for April 29.
Eisemann was charged in an April 13, 2018 superseding indictment that was the result of an investigation by the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA), assisted by the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau.
The investigation began with a referral from the New Jersey Department of Education regarding SCHI’s financial practices.
In connection with the money laundering charge of which Eisemann was found guilty, the state presented testimony and evidence that Eisemann misappropriated $200,000.00 in school funds that he used in a money laundering scheme designed to make it appear that he used personal funds to repay debts he owed to SCHI.
The state also presented testimony and evidence at trial that between 2011 and 2015, Eisemann used the fundraising foundation to misappropriate $779,000.00 in operating funds from SCHI, specifically, public tuition monies entrusted to the school to educate special needs children.
The state argued that he used those funds for various personal purposes unrelated to SCHI.
Eisemann was found guilty of the second charge, misconduct by a corporate official, because he used a corporation, Services for Hidden Intelligence, LLC, to facilitate criminal activity.
That count incorporated all of the allegations in the indictment.
“The mission of our Office of Public Integrity and Accountability is to ensure that persons who hold positions of public trust are held accountable if they betray that trust and engage in misconduct,” Attorney General Grewal said. “This verdict achieves that result and sends a strong deterrent message.”
“With this verdict, we have ensured that Eisemann will face justice for engaging in criminal conduct involving funds from SCHI,” Director Thomas Eicher of the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability, said. “I commend the trial team and all of the investigators for securing this verdict in a highly complex case.”
In a separate statement from the Defense, Eisemann's Attorney Lee Vartan said his client never took any money from the school:
"The most important thing is that it's a tremendous victory for Rabbi Eisemann and the entire Defense team. What this case was about, according to the state, was about the theft of public money, that's what the Attorney General said in his press release, that's what they opened on, that's what they closed on. The jury said loud and clear there was no theft of public money. No public money was taken, private money was used and private money is without restriction and not regulated by the department of education.
At the end of the day, first and foremost, this is a big win for justice and for the truth because there was never a day...he (Eisemann) said 'I never took a dollar from the school, I would never take a dollar from the school', and the jury agreed. What they convicted on, was first of all legally indefensible and we'll show that to the judge and if not to this judge then to the appellate division, once count three falls away count five can't stand either.
At the end of all of this, all of the counts will be gone. It will all end up in full vindication for Rabbi Eisemann. The most important part of today is the jury agreed he never stole any public money and the state's full theory was flawed."
Deputy Attorneys General Anthony J. Robinson and John Nicodemo tried the case for the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability.
They were assisted at trial by Analyst Nathalie Kurzawa.
Attorney General Grewal thanked the Department of Education for its referral and assistance.
For Eisemann: Lee Vartan, Esq., Chiesa Shahinian & Giantomasi, PC
For Services for Hidden Intelligence, LLC: James J. Mahon, Esq., Becker & Poliakoff, New York, N.Y.
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