NEW YORK (JTA) — A Russian Jewish immigrant was sentenced to a year and a day in jail for scamming thousands from a fund benefiting Holocaust victims.
Polina Anoshina, 63, of the Brighton Beach section of Brooklyn, also received two years probation when she was sentenced Monday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.
Anoshina was the first to be sentenced among 19 caught in the FBI investigation for participation in the scam; nine have pleaded guilty. She is not a Holocaust survivor.
Judge Deborah Batts also ordered Anoshina to repay $105,000 to the Claims Conference, an organization that distributes the restitution made by the German government to Holocaust survivors. Anoshina, who made a tearful plea to the court prior to sentencing, made $9,000 through fraudulent claims to the Claim Conference.
She also assisted in the theft of $105,000, part of a larger $42.5 million scam run on the program that authorities say dated back to 1993.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Frey said that Anoshina "played an intricate role" in the scam; prosecutors told the court that she had recruited 30 people to take part. Frey also pointed out that she was the only person in the criminal ring who helped a non-Jewish person receive fraudulent money.
Anoshina’s attorney, Mark Zawisny, argued that his client was "a very small part of a very large wheel," and that "she thought she was entitled to receive some benefits" because of her past in "war-torn Russia."
Julius Berman, chairman of the Claims Conference, said in a letter to his organization’s board of directors that "We are grateful to the United States authorities for their diligence and dedication to this case."