Wheaton rabbi Menachem Youlus to be sentenced in Torah scam


Rabbi Menachem Youlus. (Susan Biddle /THE WASHINGTON POST)
October 11, 2012

A Maryland rabbi who once claimed he was the “Jewish Indiana Jones” is scheduled to be sentenced in New York on Thursday in connection with his selling of fraudulent Holocaust Torahs from his Wheaton bookstore.

Menachem Youlus, 50, pleaded guilty in February to wire and mail fraud in connection with the Torah scam.

Youlus admitted that between 2004 and 2010, he defrauded his own charitable nonprofit organization, Save a Torah, Inc., as well as synagogues and individual contributors of $862,000.

He admitted to defrauding more than 50 victims, many in the Washington area.

Youlus, co-owner of the Jewish Bookstore of Greater Washington, claimed to have rescued sacred Torah scrolls that had survived the Holocaust. He fabricated stories about his adventures and sold the Torahs at an inflated value, according to prosecutors.

A January 2010 article about Youlus’s supposed exploits led to a criminal investigation.

Each of the two counts carries a maximum of 20 years, although sentencing guidelines call for between four and five years for each.

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