Spinka rabbi pleads not guilty


The grand rabbi of a Chasidic sect pleaded not guilty to tax fraud and money-laundering charges.

Rabbi Naftali Tzvi Weisz and five other members of the New York City-based Spinka sect pleaded not guilty to U.S. federal charges Monday that they arranged and profited from accepting inflated charitable donations that saved the donors millions of dollars in federal income taxes.

They were arrested after a 37-count indictment was unsealed Dec. 18. Five Spinka charitable organizations, all in Brooklyn, also were named in the case.

Prosecutors allege the scheme cheated the U.S. Internal Revenue Service out of at least $33 million.

The Spinka sect originated in Romania and its adherents are centered in Israel, Europe and Brooklyn.

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