BERLIN (JTA) — A kosher butcher in Frankfurt, Germany, admitted in court that he sold doctored tons of non-kosher meat for years as glatt kosher.
A verdict is expected next month in Frankfurt District Court in the case against the owners of the now-bankrupt Aviv kosher butcher store.
Leslie W., 48, and his partner Akiwa H., 56, are charged with having sold more than 88,000 pounds of non-kosher meat for a marked-up price. The alleged labeling fraud brought in more than $710,000 in profit, according to reports.
Akiwa said in court last week that he devised the scheme in order to escape bankruptcy in 2008.
“I didn’t see any other way out,” he said, according to news reports.
Akiwa said he bought beef and lamb from Metro, a giant discount supermarket, and made it appear kosher by removing veins and washing it in saltwater. He packaged it in bags with kosher labels, which also spared the cost of delivery and storage. But he said his sausages were always 100 percent kosher.
Investigators began their probe after learning that the business apparently sold more meat than it bought. Reports on the investigation first appeared in 2012.
“I want to ask the forgiveness of everyone whose religious sensibilities were wounded,” Akiwa told the court. His customers included individual Jews, a Jewish school and a senior home.
Among several former customers who came forward recently, one said he felt “plagued by sin” when he learned he might have been eating non-kosher meat, according to the German Jewish weekly Juedische Allgemeine. Others noted that they had trusted the rabbinate of Frankfurt, which oversees kashrut for the kosher establishments.
Leslie W. said he was “shocked and wanted to give everything up” when he found out what was going on. But he said he was paralyzed by fear of the loss of reputation.
“I deeply regret my behavior,” he said.