Rabbinic Law.

The permissivity of turning over a Jewish criminal offender to secular criminal justice.

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Under Jewish Law all disputes between Jews should be dealt with before a Beis Din (= Rabbinical Court). It is therefore forbidden under Jewish Law to proceed extra muros and to summon a fellow Jew before secular Courts, unless the defendant refused or failed to appear in Jewish Court.

Criminal cases are not dealt with by Rabbinical Courts. The question has been raised on whether it was acceptable to turn over a criminal Jew to the authorities (F.B.I., criminal justice, etc.) or was it forbidden (a) because the extra muros judicial proceeding or (b) because of the prohibition to inform (messire) non-Jewish authorities. [On the Issur of denunciation: see Jewish Law: an overview and a case study by Dr. H. Rosenberg (1989)].

Present-day Rabbis  permit turning over a Jewish  criminal offender to secular criminal justice. They rely on a Responsum by Rabbi Meir EISENSTADT (1670-1744), author of Responsa Punim Meirois, (II, 155) and Chief Rabbi of Eisenstadt, who tend to permit it, although in his times the offender would suffer physical  torture in the course of his investigation. The fact that the offender would not be able to perform all his religious duties in jail did not seem to be of importance. A prior Rabbinical authority was Rabbi Shimon Ben Tsemach DURAN (1361-1444),  Rashbats, physician and surgeon and afterwards Chief Rabbi of Algiers, author of Responsa Tashbats (III, 168), who also ruled in favor of turning over Jewish criminal offenders to secular justice. He quotes Rabbi Asher ben Jechiel (1250-1327), the Rosh, having himself turned over a Jewish thief to criminal justice to the benefit of the entire Jewish community.

In our present times an offender who is turned over to criminal justice does not have to fear for his life and can observe all his religious duties even in jail, including to learn with Havruta  and daven with minyan (in the U.S.) and of course eat kosher.

It is therefore that Rabbi Shmuel WOSNER of Bnei Brak, author of Responsa Shevet Ha-Levi, Rabbi Isaac Jacob WEISS, author of Responsa Minchas Jitschok, and Rabbi Avraham JAFFE-SCHLESINGER of Geneva, author of Responsa Be'er Sorim, all permitted to turn over Jewish criminal offenders to secular criminal justice. See below the relevant Responsa.

In the specific case of Mr. Sholam WEISS, it has been reported that he "had been engaged in a series of bank frauds, bankruptcy frauds and securities frauds dating back to the 1980s" (see judgement in Re.: COFACREDIT v. WINDSOR PLUMBING SUPPLY & Sholam WEISS et al.  below), that back in 1996 he was permitted to leave jail for four days to spend Pessach with his wife and children. Instead he flew to Atlantic City and spend Pessach in a Casino. Weiss acknowledged during his trial that he owned Scores (a Topless Club)  in secret partnership with the mob, and often spent time in the topless club.  It is further reported that according to Law Enforcement sources Weiss presently  fled with girlfriend Dorothy Braxton, 30.

Judgement in re.: COFACREDIT v. WINDSOR PLUMBING SUPPLY   & Sholam WEISS et al. 

 Article in Gambling Magazine, 32/33/215:

                       In 1996, Weiss was serving time in a New York halfway house for mail fraud
                       convictions when he persuaded a judge to permit him to spend Passover with
                       his wife and five children.

                       Though Weiss and his wife are legally separated, he has said he spends most
                       Jewish holidays with his children.

                       Weiss was permitted only to go home on the four-day pass. Instead, Trump
                       Plaza Hotel and Casino sent a helicopter to whisk Weiss and a 23-year-old
                       companion to Atlantic City. He stayed free in a $700-a-night suite and
                       gambled $100,000, court records show.

                       Trump plaza officials arranged for Weiss to be flown back to the corrections
                       center in time for his curfew. Federal authorities charged Weiss with escape.
                       Those charges were later dropped.

Report In The  Line of Duty: 

"This man was essentially a financial predator, and National Heritage was only the last in a long string of  victims," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Judy Hunt.

"The evidence presented at trial showed that Weiss had been engaged in a series of bank frauds, bankruptcy frauds and securities frauds dating back to the 1980s," Hunt said.

Law enforcement sources said Weiss fled with girlfriend Dorothy Braxton, 30. Although he surrendered his passport when he
was released on bond, Weiss has international ties and resources of as much as $25 million.

During his trial, Weiss testified that he built Windsor Plumbing Supply in Brooklyn into a $20 million business before it went bankrupt, and that he had been an investor in Studio 54.

He also testified that he was involved in several business ventures with lawyer Michael Blutrich and Lyle Pfeffer, who owned Scores in secret partnership with the mob, and often spent time in the topless club.

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           Aliases:    Sheldon Weiss, Shalom Weiss, Sholom Weiss


            Dates of Birth
            Used:   April 1, 1954; April 4, 1954;   April 1, 1952; January 1, 1954
            Hair:        Dark Brown/Gray
            Place of Birth:  Pennsylvania
             Eyes:   Blue
            Height:  5'11"
            Sex:   Male
            Weight:  260 pounds
            Race: White
            Occupation: Plumbing business owner and Nightclub owner
             Nationality:  American
            Social Security
            Number Used: 112-44-5273
            NCIC: W970243161
            Scars and Marks: None known
            Remarks: Weiss is a Hasidic Jew with ties to New Jersey, New York, Israel and
                             Austria. He frequents gambling casinos and plays blackjack.Weiss has
                             panic attacks and may be taking Klonopin/Zanax. He wears a full facial
                             beard which is dark brown.


           In November 1999, Sholam Weiss was convicted in absentia for racketeering, wire fraud,   interstate transportation of stolen property, money laundering, and filing false documents. This was as a result of his involvement in one of the largest insurance company failures in the history of the United States.

           Sholam Weiss was involved in several fraud schemes which caused the loss of hundreds of  millions of dollars to an Orlando, Florida based insurance company which collapsed in 1994. In 1997, Weiss was charged in a racketeering and money laundering indictment. He was later arrested and released on a $500,000 secured property bond. The trial began in February 1999    but, when jury deliberations began in October 1999, Weiss did not appear in court. A bench warrant was then issued for Weiss' arrest charging him with failure to appear and his bond was   revoked.


           The FBI is offering a reward of up to $95,000 for information leading to the arrest of Sholam   Weiss. Additional reward money may be available.


 TELEPHONE: (202) 324-3000 

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 [ Current Fugitives ] [ Archived Fugitives ]
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 onlyviznitz@hotmail.com   wrote to us:

In response to your proud deduction that it is permissible to turn over Mr.
Shalom Weiss according to the halchic views you stated here I wish to inform
you that yes YOU, as a lawyer you should know that not everything that is
written in the paper and everything that people say are true. Now you are
assuming that he did indeed spend pesach in a casino and that he indeed
doesn't think much about stealing and defrauding people that is what I call
judging a person by what you heard about him not about what you know. Now if
he is not caught it does not affect the Jewish community in the least so I
don't see how you can use this as a reference point. I am not very familiar
with your background in law but as I can well deduct from your statement
that you learned torah al mnas lkanter you know how to take written
testimony by erlicha gedolim of klal yisroel and twist it around with your
poisoned unjewish heart and mind. That's all a college student with shiksas
together can deduct from the torah. your head is stuffed with filth so you
cant see the holy light. May god have mercy on you!!!!!!!

We replied:

1. The piskei haloche say what they say, notwithstanding what Mr. Weiss did or did not. It is permissible to turn over a  person who is wanted -not yet convicted, i.e. still bechezkas kashrus- to criminal authorities which will then established his guilt or his innocence. I did not twist anything. I only quoted what the opinion of Gedoilm was. Could you help me make the difference between the cases quoted and the one of Mr. Weiss? Where is the difference that I seem not to be able to see?

2. Mr. Weiss preferred not to have his innocence proven and fled instead, which already puts a shade over and questions   his chezkas kashrus. He was convicted by default as he preferred not to stand trial. He -nor you- can than claim that he is innocent. Therefore I do not judge him: he was convicted. He can still appeal if he wishes to prove his innocence.

3. I cannot understand your motivation for not willing to accept that he might have done what he is suspected of (and what he meanwhile was convicted of). It does not seem likely that the authorities of your country would out of the blue charge somebody with such important crimes and should this be the case, I cannot doubt a minute that Mr. Weiss would have defended  himself and not run away.

4. Contrary to what you think, the criteria is not what does or does not affect the Jewish Community.

5. Finally, you may of course be of a different opinion, but you should dare identify yourself (as I did) and bring Gedoilim supporting your point of view. It is not a matter of what you happen to feel like in the case of Mr. Weiss....


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