A Rockland grand jury has indicted Spring Valley’s Chief Building Inspector Walter Booker and businessman Jacob Goldman for allegedly stealing taxpayer money and filing false certificates of occupancy for Goldman’s Zeissner Lane house.
Booker and Goldman were arrested in January following an investigation by the Rockland District Attorney’s Office and Spring Valley police as part of a joint task force with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in White Plains.
A grand jury heard testimony in the case last week, with Booker answering questions and giving his defense to the charges on Friday.
The phony paperwork authorized by Booker allegedly allowed Goldman to get $33,093 in property-tax exemptions in 2012, 2013 and 2014 from Ramapo and also operate two for-profit daycare centers at 9 Zeissner Lane that caught the attention of the Rockland Department of Social Services, the Rockland District Attorney’s Office said. The Department of Social Services investigated possible fraud with the state and alerted prosecutors.
Goldman also operates a synagogue and school at the house. Booker is accused of aiding Goldman’s scheme, prosecutors said.
The grand jury indicted Booker and Goldman on three counts of third-degree grand larceny for the alleged theft of taxpayer money. Goldman also was indicted on three counts of first-degree offering a false instrument for filing. Booker faces three counts each of first-degree falsified business records and issuing false certificates, as well as three counts of official misconduct.
The certificate of indictment was filed with the Ramapo Justice Court. The charges carry a maximum of seven years in prison. Neither man has a criminal history.
Goldman, the principal for current 9 Zeissner Lane owner Congregation Mosdos Zvhille Inc., has had both a one-family and two-family designation at 9 Zeissner Lane at various times in the past five years.
Prosecutor Richard Kennison Moran has said that Goldman wanted a single-family house designation in order to get a tax exemption from Ramapo. Goldman had a rabbinical office on the house’s first floor, where his wife and family also operated daycare facilities and where people paid rent to live.
His family needed a two-family designation, however, to operate the for-profit daycare facilities, which obtained $549,312 in subsidies through the state from 2011 to 2015, according to documents released by the Rockland Department of Social Services under a Freedom of Information Law request.
Goldman is accused of under-reporting income from the day-care facilities to obtain the religious tax exemptions from the town.
Prosecutors charge that Booker helped Goldman get the tax exemptions and state subsidies by providing four fake certificates of occupancy for the property based on construction work supposedly done there.”
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