FBI, Rockland DA raid yeshivas’ tech companies for potential fraud

Julie Wiener

UPDATE: This story was last updated on March 16 at 4 p.m. to include a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the name of one company that was targeted.

NEW YORK (JTA) — Federal and Rockland County agents raided tech companies in the New York county in a fraud investigation involving haredi Orthodox yeshivas.

On Wednesday, FBI agents and investigators from the Rockland County District Attorney’s Office searched numerous firms in Monsey and Airmont to seize records in a probe looking into whether the companies fraudulently billed the federal government for services for the yeshivas, The Journal News reported.

They demanded the vendors account for millions of dollars of equipment allegedly purchased by religious schools through the government’s E-rate program.

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Under E-rate, a program established in 1998, the government pays for Internet access and other technology for public and private schools throughout the United States. In 2013, a series of investigative articles in The New York Jewish Week found that haredi Orthodox yeshivas in New York City and Rockland County were receiving a disproportionate percentage of the funds, even though the majority of them did not allow students or teachers to access the Internet. Also in 2013, the Forward reported on potential E-rate abuses by haredi Orthodox libraries.

In a statement first reported in the Journal News Wednesday afternoon, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said: “Today, the FBI, working with our office, conducted searches in connection with an ongoing fraud investigation. If and when charges are filed, they will eventually become public. This remains an ongoing matter, and we are unable to provide any additional information at this time.”

More than 300 agents and officers are involved in Wednesday’s raid, authorities said, adding that no arrests have been made and none were expected that day.

Companies being investigated as part of the raid include Hashomer Alarm Systems in Monsey, according to the Journal News.

The raids coincide with state and federal investigations of potential government corruption in two Rockland towns, Ramapo and Clarkstown.

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