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Escondido man pleads guilty to tax evasion scheme involving Poway rabbi

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Posted at 5:43 PM, Feb 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-02 20:43:00-05

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - An Escondido man pleaded guilty Tuesday to a federal charge of filing a false tax return, marking the tenth defendant to admit a role thus far in a series of fraud schemes involving former Chabad of Poway rabbi Yisroel Goldstein.

Stuart Weinstock, 64, admitted to making fraudulent donations to the Chabad of Poway over an eight-year span.

Prosecutors say about 75% of the money he claimed he donated was returned to him, allowing Weinstock to evade more than $100,000 in taxes.

Sentencing is slated for April 26, when Weinstock faces a maximum possible penalty of three years in prison, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Prosecutors say that between 2010 and 2018, Weinstock gave the rabbi at least $872,815 in checks, which were described as "contributions," "donations," or "business expenses."

Goldstein returned $654,611 to the defendant, often providing the money in cash to Weinstock while meeting him in person at his home or business - - minus a 25% cut for Goldstein.

Weinstock then claimed on his tax returns that the full donation amounts were made to the Chabad as tax-deductible donations or business expenses.

The allegations mirror others made against co-defendants whose alleged donations to the Chabad and other affiliated organizations were funneled back to them.

Goldstein, 58, pleaded guilty last summer to fraud charges in connection with the case, but has yet to be sentenced.

The U.S. Attorney's Office said that once Goldstein was arrested in 2018, one of the rabbi's acquaintances contacted Weinstock to warn him against accepting any envelopes in the future, cautioning him that Goldstein was cooperating with law enforcement.

"Mr. Weinstock admitted that he broke the law and cheated the United States out of over $100,000, and in so doing, he also cheated honest taxpayers who pay their fair share," said IRS Special Agent in Charge Ryan L. Korner. "Mr. Weinstock's tax evasion scheme spanned eight years, exploiting charitable giving laws and abusing a tax-exempt religious organization."