Holocaust fund scammer gets a year in slammer

Russian US-Jew is sentenced for role in fraudulently obtaining funds from the Claims Conference; case is first of 19 to reach sentencing.

Manhattan criminial court in New York 311 (R) (photo credit: Allison Joyce / Reuters)
Manhattan criminial court in New York 311 (R)
(photo credit: Allison Joyce / Reuters)
NEW YORK -- A Russian Jewish immigrant to the United States was sentenced to a year and a day in jail on Monday for scamming thousands from a fund benefiting Holocaust victims.
Polina Anoshina, 63, of the Brighton Beach section of Brooklyn, also received two years probation when she was sentenced in US District Court in Manhattan.
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Anoshina was the first to be sentenced among 19 caught in the FBI investigation for participation in the scam; nine have pleaded guilty. She is not a Holocaust survivor.
Judge Deborah Batts also ordered Anoshina to repay $105,000 to the Claims Conference, an organization that distributes the restitution made by the German government to Holocaust survivors. Anoshina, who made a tearful plea to the court prior to sentencing, made $9,000 through fraudulent claims to the Claim Conference.
She also assisted in the theft of $105,000, part of a larger $42.5 million scam run on the program that authorities say dated back to 1993.
Assistant US Attorney Christopher Frey said that Anoshina "played an intricate role" in the scam; prosecutors told the court that she had recruited 30 people to take part. Frey also pointed out that she was the only person in the criminal ring who helped a non-Jewish person receive fraudulent money.
Anoshina's attorney, Mark Zawisny, argued that his client was "a very small part of a very large wheel," and that "she thought she was entitled to receive some benefits" because of her past in "war-torn Russia."
Julius Berman, chairman of the Claims Conference, said in a letter to his organization's board of directors that "We are grateful to the United States authorities for their diligence and dedication to this case."