Rabbi pleads guilty in UC San Diego donation fraud scheme

January 28, 2022 GMT

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A rabbi who directed Chabad House at the University of California, San Diego pleaded guilty to taking part in a donation fraud scheme, one of several orchestrated by another rabbi who was sentenced this month for stealing millions of dollars.

Yehuda Hadjadj entered the plea Wednesday in federal court to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

Hadjadj directed the university’s Chabad House, which offers social and other services to Jewish students.

The rabbi acknowledged that he conspired with others including Yisroel Goldstein, longtime leader of the Chabad of Poway synagogue near San Diego, to defraud a Qualcomm corporate donor program.

The program involved the company matching donations made by employees to nonprofit groups but certain religious groups weren’t eligible. Hadjadj evaded the restriction by having people donate to a nonprofit charity run by Goldstein, then secretly paying them back, prosecutors said.

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Between 2010 and 2017, the scheme raised about $40,0000 for Chabad at UC San Diego, prosecutors said.

Hadjadj was the 10th person to plead guilty in a probe of financial frauds involving Goldstein, who was accused of collecting more than $6 million in fake donations. Goldstein pleaded guilty to fraud charges and was sentenced earlier this month to 14 months in prison.