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Brooklyn rabbi accused of extortion, blackmail

NEW YORK (JTA) — A prominent Brooklyn rabbi has been accused again of financial wrongdoing. 

Milton Balkany, the head of the Bais Yaakov school in Borough Park, was charged Feb. 18 with trying to extort $4 million from a Connecticut hedge fund. 

Balkany was charged with a range of infractions stemming from his alleged scheme to get the fund to transfer money to Bais Yaakov and another Brooklyn yeshiva. Balkany allegedly claimed that a federal prison inmate he was counseling had information that the fund had made insider trades. If the fund didn’t pay up, Balkany would have the prisoner talk to federal authorities. Prosecutors claim Balkany made up the story about the trades. 

If convicted, Balkany could face more than 20 years in prison. He was released on bail on Feb. 18. 

In 2003, Balkany was accused of misappropriating $700,000 in federal grant money. The charges eventually were dropped after he repaid the money.

Balkany told several news outlets that as with the earlier charges against him, he ultimately would be exonerated. 

Balkany also was involved in efforts to head off a boycott of the disgraced kosher meat producer Agriprocessors, which was owned by his father-in-law, Aaron Rubashkin. 

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