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Qualcomm engineer pleads guilty to fraud related to donation scheme

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Posted at 9:03 AM, Dec 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-30 12:03:17-05

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A Qualcomm engineer pleaded guilty to a federal fraud charge Tuesday for defrauding the tech company out of thousands of dollars in false donations made to a local religious organization, as part of the wide-ranging fraud scheme involving former Chabad of Poway Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein.

Rotem Cooper, 54, admitted in San Diego federal court to making donations to the nonprofit Friendship Circle of San Diego -- which is affiliated with Chabad of Poway -- while secretly, 90% of his donations were funneled back to him, according to court documents.

Prosecutors allege the tech company lost $27,330 in the scheme, as Qualcomm matched the purported donations Cooper made to the Friendship Circle.

Court documents state that Cooper's donations were also actually funneled through the Friendship Circle to an unnamed religious organization run by a person identified only as Y.H in court documents. Y.H. was the director of a San Diego "religious congregation and community organization" and an associate of Goldstein, according to Cooper's charging document.

While Qualcomm's corporate matching program precluded donations to religious groups, the non-sectarian Friendship Circle was eligible.

Prosecutors say Cooper made 11 separate donations to Y.H.'s organization, while Y.H. repaid most of it back to Cooper in cash and provided him with fraudulent donation receipt letters signed by Goldstein.

Cooper additionally underpaid his income taxes between 2010 and 2017 by $7,960 by claiming his payments to the Friendship Circle were tax-deductible donations, court documents state.

Cooper joins seven others -- including Goldstein -- who have pleaded guilty in connection with the donation fraud scheme.