Brooklyn Hasidic school officials busted for stealing federal meal program cash

Brooklyn Hasidic school officials busted for stealing federal meal program cash

 

Joel Lowy, 29, formerly of the Central United Talmudic Academy, was indicted Thursday on charges that he  bilked a federal school meal program out of $3 million — putting in claims on food that was never served.

Joel Lowy, 29, formerly of the Central United Talmudic Academy, was indicted Thursday on charges that he bilked a federal school meal program out of $3 million — putting in claims on food that was never served.

(BYRON SMITH)

Two ex-administrators at a Brooklyn Hasidic school system are accused of taking food out of the mouths of children.

Elozer Porges, 43, and Joel Lowy, 29, formerly of the Central United Talmudic Academy, were indicted Thursday on charges that they bilked a federal school meal program out of $3 million — putting in claims on food that was never served.

Brooklyn federal prosecutors said the unreal meal scheme took place between 2013 and 2015. They said the pair padded reimbursement claims so they could reap larger checks from the U.S. Child and Adult Care Food Program — a program meant to feed at-risk children.

The FBI and the city Department of Investigation launched a joint investigation into the reimbursement process in 2014 — specifically looking at whether dinners were actually served at the Williamsburg schools.

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Investigators learned that the kids got breakfast and lunch, but no suppers. Kitchen and custodial staff confirmed that breakfast, lunch and snacks were the only items on the menu, court papers said.

Porges, the former executive director, and Lowy, the onetime assistant director, face felony charges of mail fraud and conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.

They face up to 20 years in prison if convicted. They pleaded not guilty at their arriangment Thursday.

Lowy was arrested Thursday and released on $200,000 bond. His lawyer, Marc Agnifilo, said his client “is going to fight the charges.”

Lowy was arrested Thursday and released on $200,000 bond. His lawyer, Marc Agnifilo, said his client “is going to fight the charges.”

(BYRON SMITH)

Henry Mazurek, Porges’ lawyer, told the Daily News his client “was a dedicated school officer” and not a pocket-lining thief.

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“Any public money that was received by the school was used only for the benefit of students and teachers,” Mazurek said. “Not one cent of public money was used for anyone’s private interests.”

Porges was released on a $500,000 bond, which had been arranged back when he was arrested in May.

Lowy was arrested Thursday and released on $200,000 bond. His lawyer, Marc Agnifilo, said his client “is going to fight the charges.”

Acting Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Bridget Rohde said the pair undermined “a program designed to assist the most vulnerable members of our community.”

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