(JTA) – A New Jersey rabbi and his wife were arrested with three other Jewish couples for underreporting their incomes to receive government benefits.
The couples, including the rabbi’s brother and wife, were arrested Monday in raids that resulted from an investigation into Lakewood, a New Jersey town that is home to a large haredi Orthodox community. More arrests are expected, Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato said, according to The Associated Press (AP).
The FBI and the New Jersey State Comptroller’s Office launched the probe.
By underreporting their incomes, Rabbi Zalmen Sorotzkin and his wife, Tzipporah, and the other couples defrauded state and federal assistance programs of over $1 million, according to criminal complaints, AP reported.
The Sorotzkins were charged in state court with illegally collecting more than $338,000 in benefits. They will plead not guilty, their attorney said, according to AP.
Another couple, Mordechai and Jocheved Breskin, was charged with illegally collecting $585,000.
In federal court, Zalmen Sorotzkin’s brother, Mordechai, and his wife, Rachel, were charged with another couple, Yocheved and Shimon Nussbaum, with illegally collecting benefits, including Medicaid.
“My office gave clear guidance and notice to the Lakewood community in 2015 of what is considered financial abuse of these programs,” Coronato said. “Those who choose to ignore those warnings by seeking to illegally profit on the backs of taxpayers will pay the punitive price of their actions.”