The first of 19 cases pending against a fraud ring that scammed millions of dollars from a Holocaust survivors fund has ended with the defendant receiving a year in prison and an order to pay back $105,000.
Polina Anoshina, a 63-year-old Brighton Beach resident, was accused of plundering the Conference on Jewish Material Claims for $9,000 for her own benefit. But authorities also say she played a key role in helping about 30 friends and neighbors scam the fund for an additional $100,000. In addition to paying back the fund and a year in prison, Anoshina received two years probation.
“My entire life I lived a very hard life and a very difficult life; I never broke the law,” Anoshina said. “I swear that for the rest of my entire life I will never break the law again.”
The case first came to light in November, when federal authorities unveiled charges against the criminal ring of largely Brighton Beach residents, and included a number of caseworkers at the fund. The feds alleged the caseworkers colluded with the scammers over a 16-year period to find Russian-Jewish emigres to claim they were Holocaust survivors, often making up stories and forging documents, which the caseworkers then approved. In all, the fund claims it lost an estimated $40 million to the scam, though some have offered to repay what they took.
Nine defendants have already pleaded guilty to charges relating to the case.