A New Jersey man was sentenced to 22 years in prison for running a more than $200 million real estate investment fraud scheme that largely targeted members of the Jewish community that he was a part of, according to U.S. Attorney for New Jersey Paul J. Fishman.
Eliyahu Weinstein, 38, of Lakewood, N.J., which has a large Orthodox Jewish community, was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Trenton Tuesday after entering a guilty plea earlier to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering. Weinstein’s co-defendant, Vladimir Siforov of Manalapan, N.J., is charged with three counts of wire fraud and remains a fugitive.
Between 2004 and 2011, Weinstein, Siforov and others orchestrated the real estate investment scheme that resulted in $215.4 million in losses to investors. Investors were told Weinstein had inside access to certain real estate opportunities that allowed him to buy property at a below-market price.
The investors were told the property would be resold to a third-party purchaser. To bolster the scheme, Weinstein created false documents and checks, and altered checks to make them appear to be worth millions, the U.S. attorney said.
Initially members of the Orthodox Jewish community to which Weinstein belonged were targeted using Weinstein’s standing in the community to further the scheme, but the fraud eventually reached beyond the Jewish community, Fishman said. Weinstein told the victims’ their profits were being rolled over into new investments.
The money was used in part to fund Weinstein’s lavish lifestyle including buying millions of dollars’ worth of antique Judaica and other artwork, a multimillion-dollar collection of jewelry and watches, gambling in Las Vegas and elsewhere, and to pay Weinstein’s personal expenses, including millions of dollars in credit card bills, millions of dollars in legal bills and luxury car-lease payments, Fishman said.
Weinstein has been ordered to pay $215.4 million each in restitution and forfeiture.