Rabbi Leib Glanz, who operated for years at the center of power in the Satmar Hasidic community in Brooklyn and for nearly a decade served as an influential city prison chaplain, was sentenced on Thursday to spend 45 days in federal prison on fraud-related charges.
Rabbi Leib Glanz pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor last year to defrauding more than $36,000 in housing subsidies from the federal government when he lied about his brother’s residence.
It was a dramatic role reversal for Rabbi Glanz, 54, who pleaded guilty in September to knowingly lying to the federal government in order to defraud it of more than $36,000 of Section 8 housing subsidies intended for the poor. The rabbi had run the Satmar community’s school system and served as a bridge between its ultra-Orthodox leaders and secular politicians.
Indeed, Justice P. Kevin Castel of Federal District Court in Manhattan said that in formulating an appropriate punishment, he was trying to strike a balance between the past good deeds of the rabbi and the need to deter others from similar crimes.
“Section 8 subsidies are not free money, they exist at the sufferance of the citizens and those who pay taxes,” Justice Castel said. “Punishment is intended to sting,” he added. “It is not simply a matter of rolling back the clock to what it was before the fraud was done.”
Rabbi Glanz broke down in sobs as he asked for lenience before about a dozen supporters and family members in the largely empty courtroom. “All my life, I have tried to do only what is good, I have tried to help many people,” he said. “But in this case, I have not lived up to my own standards. I said ‘yes’ when I should have said ‘no,’ and by doing that, I have failed myself, I have failed many people.”
His brother, Menashe Glanz, 51, who also took part in the fraud scheme, was sentenced on Feb. 20 to six months in prison and six months of home confinement. The men were also required to reimburse the federal government more than $220,000, the total amount stolen in the scheme. The city’s Department of Investigation said at the time of the arrests that the scheme was the largest individual case of tenant fraud it had ever investigated.
Rabbi Glanz made headlines in 2009 when The New York Post revealed he had used his clout as a prison chaplain to arrange for a lavish six-hour bar mitzvah to take place in a Manhattan jail for the son of a wealthy Orthodox Jewish inmate. A city investigation found that senior Correction Department officials had signed off on the party, which included a band and catered food. The scandal led to the rabbi’s resignation from his part-time chaplaincy.
But long before that, the rabbi had been a power player in city politics. Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani invited him to the V.I.P. suite when was elected mayor. He was a regular at meetings with local and national politicians seeking votes. He became something of a Satmar master of ceremonies for outsiders, arranging official tours of the sect’s Williamsburg community, and serving as a liaison with the city police.
Rabbi Glanz’s star began to wane in 2006, with the death of the Satmar grand rebbe and the subsequent split of the community into two rival factions. His arrest in 2011 on the fraud charges seemed to indicate how far his fortunes had turned.
According to the government, Menashe Glanz, whose reported annual income was under $7,000, asked his brother starting in 1996 to sign government documents asserting that he lived at 85 Ross Street, which was actually Rabbi Glanz’s address. The subsidy money went to the United Talmudic Academy, where Rabbi Glanz was the chief executive, and in exchange, Menashe Glanz received a reduction for his children’s tuition.
The complete set of charges carried a maximum 15-year prison sentence, but in a plea agreement, Rabbi Glanz pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor, and his brother to two counts of fraud.