Thursday, November 11, 2010
A prominent Orthodox rabbi has been convicted of trying to extort millions of dollars from a giant hedge fund
The rabbi, Milton Balkany, known for his access to senators and representatives, was accused of trying to persuade the hedge fund, SAC Capital, into paying to keep information that he said was damaging secret. According to prosecutors, Rabbi Balkany, 64, had been acting as a spiritual adviser to an inmate at the Otisville Federal Correctional Institution in Orange County, N.Y., who told him that SAC Capital, in Connecticut, had used inside information to profit from a series of stock trades. Rabbi Balkany told the firm he would keep the inmate from sharing details of the supposed insider trades with the authorities if the firm handed over $4 million, half of which would go to a Jewish day school he founded in Brooklyn, Bais Yaakov, prosecutors said. Rabbi Balkany was arrested in February 2010, hours after he tried to deposit two checks from the hedge fund, which had been secretly working with the authorities. Rabbi Balkany was found guilty, after a seven-day trial in Federal District Court in Manhattan, of extortion, blackmail, wire fraud and making false statements. He faces a maximum of 20 years in prison on the wire fraud count alone when he is sentenced on Feb. 18, 2011.