Charity founded by Orthodox lobbyist under investigation in NY

‘NY Post’: Shiya Ostereicher probed for taking funds without giving service.

New York City skyline 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Mike Segar)
New York City skyline 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Mike Segar)
NEW YORK – A nonprofit organization founded by Shiya Ostereicher, the powerful lobbyist for Agudath Israel of America, is under investigation in New York State for allegedly taking state funds while providing little in the way of actual services, The New York Post reported on Sunday.
The Post had previously revealed that a Borough Park agency called Relief Resources Inc., which ostensibly provides referrals for members of the Jewish community coping with mental illness, might be the unnamed charity that New York State announced earlier in December was under investigation for taking millions in state funds but providing seemingly little actual services. Ostereicher sits on the board of Relief Resources, as well as on the board of Refuah Resources, which lists the same address as Relief Resources and provides similar services, the Post reported.
The state’s Moreland Commission on Public Corruption noted that they had found no solid evidence of impropriety to date, but had recorded questionable practices, such as very little foot traffic outside the agency over a period of 25 days, and very few, and extremely short, telephone calls to the agency, “raising questions about how substantive the calls can actually be,” the report said.
Refuah Resources received $91,000 from the state in 2006, the Post said. A third agency, called The Student Link, is listed at the same address as Refuah and Relief Resources, and has changed its mission statement several times from helping poor children, to funding renovations for summer camps, to “defraying the costs of weddings in the Jewish community.”
The man who is listed as the president of The Students Link, Alexander Ornstein, indicated to the Post that he was not aware that he was on the board.
Ostereicher and Ornstein also sit on the board of a new healthcare center called Premium Health that receives its funding from Medicaid. Ornstein founded another health group, called Affordable Drugs, in 2004, which the Post reported applied for tax-exempt status in 2006, but the IRS has no record of the group.
In addition to founding these five nonprofits, Ostereicher, who is based in Borough Park, Brooklyn, with his family, is also immensely influential in the New York political scene. He is reportedly very close with Assembly Speaker Dov Hikind, Republican Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, and State Senator Simcha Felder, among others.
In 2011 Ostereicher helped enact a law that secures $18 million in New York taxpayer dollars every year for rabbinical students – a move that was highly controversial – and in 2012 helped to created the “super Jewish Senate district” of Midwood and Borough Park in Brooklyn.