The forger of phony papers that allowed a Brighton Beach-based ring of individuals to ripoff more than $57 million from a reparations fund for Holocaust victims was sentenced to serve nearly two years in prison last week.
The New York Post reports:
A weeping Dora Grande bowed her head in shame and let out a whimper after Manhattan federal Judge Thomas Griesa said she deserved a “meaningful penalty” for forging about 300 documents at $100 a pop while working as a translator and notary public in Brooklyn.
In addition to the 21 months prison time — just three months shy of the maximum under her plea deal — Griesa ordered Grande to forfeit the $30,000 she pocketed through the scam, and also pay $75,000 in restitution.
Defense lawyer Glenn Morak argued that Grande, 65, had no idea that her fake birth certificates would be used in a massive scheme to rip off the Manhattan-based Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
But prosecutor Christopher Frey said Grande “basically turned a blind eye” to her clients’ plans, noting that “the fraud permeated the Brighton Beach community” where she lives.
Authorities busted as many as 19 individuals for their role in the scheme in November 2010. Prosecutors claimed that Brighton Beach residents worked with insiders responsible for verifying applications to the Conference on Jewish Material Claims, doling out kickbacks to approve fraudulent paperwork submitted by Russian immigrants. The scheme went back as far as 1994, authorities alleged.
The Conference is responsible for disbursing funds on behalf of the German government to survivors. One of the ringleaders of the scheme, Semen Domnitser, allegedly signed off on more than 4,000 applications in question. Prosecutors asked recipients to pay back their ill-gotten gains, although did not seek action against them.
The first case against the ring concluded in August 2011, when Polina Anoshina, a 63-year-old Brighton Beach resident accused of plundering the Conference on Jewish Material Claims for $9,000 and roping 30 friends and neighbors into the scam, was sentenced to one year in prison.
Others have since been sentenced as well.