(JTA) — The owner of a kosher cheese business in Albany, New York, has been charged with fraud.
Lawrence Rosenbaum, 64, of Albany, was arraigned Monday for allegedly promising high returns and shares of stock to investors in his Saratoga Cheese Corp., a kosher and halal cheese business. He never developed the production lines or facilities for which he solicited the money, the local ABC affiliate reported.
Rosenbaum also is accused of writing checks to himself from the business accounts and using some of the investment funds to pay for an apartment with his mistress in Costa Rica. He also did not file his personal income taxes for several years.
He is charged on 27 counts including grand larceny, securities fraud and tax fraud. Rosenbaum pleaded not guilty; he is being held on $200,000 bail.
Rosenbaum allegedly looked for investors for a plant to process the cheese and create alternative bio-energies from the manure from his milk-producing cows. The $40 million cheese factory announced in 2008 was slated to be built in the Cayuga County Industrial Development Agency industrial park, which was predicted to be an economic boon to the area. He ran his business from the porch of his Albany home.
In 2009, Rosenbaum spoke to Chabad.org of his plans to headquarter his cheese business in rural Cayuga County and use it as a base to “found a yeshiva, revolutionize the national kosher and halal cheese industry, and establish a Jewish community in the New York countryside.” In 2014, Rosenbaum told an interfaith gathering in Morristown, New Jersey, that his production of cheeses for the Jewish and Muslim markets was part of an effort he called Cheese for Peace.
If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in state prison.