Eliyahu Weinstein was convicted twice of defrauding investors of $230 million, but he was freed from prison by Trump in 2021 only eight years into his 24-year federal prison sentence. Weinstein has been charged again for a new Ponzi scheme with four other defendants.
The five defendants have been charged with conspiring to defraud investors of more than $35 million and with conspiracy to obstruct justice. The release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of New Jersey states:
A criminal complaint was unsealed today charging each of the five defendants with one count of wire fraud conspiracy and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice. The defendants are: Eliyahu “Eli” Weinstein, aka Mike Konig, 48, Aryeh “Ari” Bromberg, 49, and Joel Wittels, 57, all of Lakewood, New Jersey, along with Shlomo Erez, 55, a citizen and resident of Israel, and Alaa Hattab, 34, of Otttowa, Canada. The three defendants who were arrested are scheduled to make their initial appearances today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Tonianne Bongiovanni in Trenton federal court; Wittels and Hattab remain at large.
Eliyahu “Eli” Weinstein was convicted for an investment fraud that was committed from 2004 to 2011and he was convicted a second time for a crime committed while he was on pre-trial release from 2012 to 2013. He was sentenced to 24 years in federal prison and he was ordered to pay $230 million in restitution to victims.
However, in 2021 Weinstein had his remaining prison sentence commuted by then-president Trump and the new complaint notes that of the $230 million owed, Weinstein has paid less than $1.7 million.
Weinstein’s latest scheme with Bromberg, Wittels, Erez and Hattab involved taking tens of millions from investors falsely claiming funds were for COVID-19 masks, scarce baby formula and first aid kits bound for Ukraine.
The Weinstein, Bromberg, Wittels, Erez, Hattab Ponzi scheme used two New York companies, Optimus Investments Inc. which purportedly financed purchase of goods from Tryon Management Group LLC. The scheme also involved bottling company Saniton Plastic LLC and Hattab Global Corporation.
Following is the full complaint:
There is often a few degrees of separation between criminals in the news and Trump. One of the people who was charged in Weinstein’s earlier ponzi scheme was Vladimir Siforov.
In 2020 reporter Todd Prince noted on Twitter that Siforov had set up a company with Valentin Laskov, who had been a co-investor in a casino cruise business with Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen:
Eli Weinstein’s 2003 connection to Giuliani associate Lev Parnas
It turns out that Eli Weinstein had a more direct connection, several decades ago, to someone who was later in Trump’s circle — Giuliani’s associate Lev Parnas.
A complaint was filed in 2003 by Mark Finkelstein against Aaron Investment Group, Inc., Lev Parnas and Robert Grinberg. In the complaint Finkelstein said that he had engaged Eli Weinstein as his investment advisor. Finkelstein said he was introduced by Weinstein to Lev Parnas and Robert Grinberg who “sought to induce Finkelstein to invest One Million Dollars into Aaron Investment.”
After the discussion about investing in Aaron Investment, Finkelstein said that Weinstein asked him to transfer three hundred thousand dollars in securities into a brokerage account at Aaron Investment. After this was done, Finkelstein said defendants Parnas and Grinberg refused to provide information about the account and he had no knowledge of what happened to his money.
According to a search for case documents on the Pacer website, this case filed by Finkelstein was terminated in 2003.
I co-wrote this story with Stacy Jannis in 2019 on Lev Parnas and Robert Grinberg, and some of the mutual business partners they had in common over the years with Donald Trump’s first wife Ivana.