Ex-Claims Conf. official sentenced to 8 years in prison

(JTA) — Semen Domnitser, the former Claims Conference employee who was found guilty of leading a $57 million fraud scheme at the Holocaust restitution organization, was sentenced to eight years in prison.

Domnitser, 55, was sentenced Monday in Manhattan federal court. He also was ordered to pay restitution of $57.3 million.

Since 2010, a total of 31 individuals have been charged with participating in the scheme to defraud the Article 2 Fund and Hardship Fund programs directed by Domnister. Twenty-eight defendants pleaded guilty, and three — Domnitser, Luba Kramrish and Oksana Romalis — were convicted in May after trial.

Kramrish was sentenced on Sept. 20 to 37 months in prison. Romalis is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 26.

The fraud was discovered in 2009 and dated back to 1993. It involved falsifying applications to the Hardship Fund, an account established by the German government to provide one-time payments of approximately $3,360 to those who fled the Nazis as they moved east through Germany, and the Article 2 Fund, through which the German government gives pension payments of approximately $411 per month to needy Nazi victims who spent significant time in a concentration camp, in a Jewish ghetto in hiding or living under a false identity to avoid the Nazis.

In a statement issued after Domnitser’s sentencing, Claims Conference Chairman Julius Berman hailed authorities’ handling of the case.

“Four years after our discovery of the fraud, we are finally able to put this behind us and continue, as we have throughout, focusing on our core mission of helping Holocaust victims and advocating for them,” Berman said.

 

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