Judge Orders Testimony Over Allegations “Accounting Error” Exonerates Lakewood SCHI Founder

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NEW BRUNSWICK – A Superior Court judge on Tuesday ordered a new hearing into an allegation that an accounting error by an accountant proves the founder of Lakewood School for Children with Hidden Intelligence (SCHI) is innocent of money laundering money and misconduct.

Superior Court Judge Benjamin Bucca, at a hearing on Rabbi Osher Eisemann’s offer for a new trial, ordered an additional hearing with testimony to determine whether the accountant’s claims, presented in a certification as newly discovered evidence , would resist cross-examination if they were to order a new trial.

The judge also said the next hearing will focus on whether the new evidence could have been uncovered before the first trial in 2019 and, if so, whether Eisemann’s defense attorneys erred. . If this was an error, it could potentially lead to a new trial for ineffective assistance from counsel.

Eisemann, convicted of the criminal charges in a 2019 trial, requested a new trial after saying that a former school accountant had come forward to take responsibility for an accounting error that was at the root of his conviction.

The founder of Lakewood’s School for Hidden Intelligence, Rabbi Osher Eisemann, appears for a hearing on a motion before Judge Benjamin Bucca in Middlesex, New Brunswick, NJ on Tuesday, November 16, 2021.

“I want to see how that compares on cross-examination,” Bucca said of the claims made in the certification by Rochel Janowski, a former part-time accountant at the school.

The state alleged during the trial before Bucca in 2019 that $ 200,000 was taken from the school’s account to pay off a $ 200,000 debt Eisemann owed to Services for Hidden Intelligence LLC, the fundraising arm. nonprofit school.

Eisemann’s attorneys have filed a motion for a new trial based on the certification recently submitted by Janowski, who claimed she mistakenly entered a $ 200,000 credit on a loan account to balance the books of school, and not to deduct a loan to Eisemann as the state claimed.

Defense lawyer Lee Vartan speaks as Lakewood's School for Hidden Intelligence founder Rabbi Osher Eisemann appears for a hearing on a motion before Judge Benjamin Bucca in Middlesex, New Brunswick, NJ, on Tuesday 16 November 2021.

Defense lawyer Lee Vartan speaks as Lakewood’s School for Hidden Intelligence founder Rabbi Osher Eisemann appears for a hearing on a motion before Judge Benjamin Bucca in Middlesex, New Brunswick, NJ, on Tuesday 16 November 2021.

Eisemann, 64, of Lakewood, opened the school on Oak Street in 1995 to serve a handful of developmentally retarded, medically fragile and emotionally challenged children, in part because he has a child with special needs. The school now welcomes more than 600 young people with special needs. It receives about $ 1.8 million per month from public school districts that send students there, the state attorney general’s office said when Eisemann was first indicted in 2017. He has since been on leave from school. school.

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Janowski, in her certification, said that she was responsible for the $ 200,000 credit on the loan account and that she had never discussed the accounting entry with Eisemann and did not think he had any. knowledge before the criminal case against him.

“We know it’s not just exculpatory, it’s totally exculpatory,” defense attorney Lee Vartan of the West Orange Chiesa, Shahinian and Giantomasi law firm said of the newly uncovered evidence.

Deputy Attorney General John Nicodemo argued Janowski’s claim lacks credibility and could have been made by the defense at trial, but is now ruled out.

Deputy Attorney General John Nicodemo speaks as Lakewood's School for Hidden Intelligence founder Rabbi Osher Eisemann appears for a hearing on a motion before Justice Benjamin Bucca in Middlesex, New Brunswick, NJ on Tuesday November 16, 2021.

Deputy Attorney General John Nicodemo speaks as Lakewood’s School for Hidden Intelligence founder Rabbi Osher Eisemann appears for a hearing on a motion before Justice Benjamin Bucca in Middlesex, New Brunswick, NJ on Tuesday November 16, 2021.

Nicodemo said Janowski provided the information two years after Eisemann’s conviction.

“Saying it’s suspicious is just the start,” he said.

The state presented evidence at trial that Eisemann “touched every element of this $ 200,000 transaction,” Nicodemo added. “It cannot be ignored.”

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The Middlesex County jury in 2019 dismissed allegations that Eisemann embezzled $ 979,000 from the school for his own purposes, but found he had moved $ 200,000 of school money through private accounts, including his own, before redirecting him to the school through a third-party organization. to make it look like he was paying off a debt.

Eisemann was convicted of money laundering and misconduct by a business executive, both second-degree crimes punishable by prison terms of five to 10 years. The jury, however, acquitted Eisemann of a more serious offense, first degree bribery of public resources, for which he allegedly faced 10 to 20 years in prison. The jury also acquitted Eisemann of second degree theft and second degree embezzlement of entrusted property.

Lakewood's School for Hidden Intelligence founder Rabbi Osher Eisemann appears for a hearing on a motion before (pictured) Judge Benjamin Bucca in Middlesex, New Brunswick, NJ on Tuesday, November 16, 2021.

Lakewood’s School for Hidden Intelligence founder Rabbi Osher Eisemann appears for a hearing on a motion before (pictured) Judge Benjamin Bucca in Middlesex, New Brunswick, NJ on Tuesday, November 16, 2021.

Bucca sentenced Eisemann to two years’ probation, 60 days in jail and a fine of $ 250,000, but a panel of appeal judges in a scathing opinion in January ordered the accused to be convicted again by another judge , claiming that Bucca ignored the jury’s verdict and the law by not sending Eisemann to state prison.

Eisemann was due to be convicted again in July by Superior Court Judge Joseph Paone in Middlesex County, but his new sentence was stayed, pending the outcome of his petition for a new trial.

The founder of Lakewood's School for Hidden Intelligence, Rabbi Osher Eisemann, appears for a hearing on a motion before Judge Benjamin Bucca in Middlesex, New Brunswick, NJ on Tuesday, November 16, 2021.

The founder of Lakewood’s School for Hidden Intelligence, Rabbi Osher Eisemann, appears for a hearing on a motion before Judge Benjamin Bucca in Middlesex, New Brunswick, NJ on Tuesday, November 16, 2021.

Eisemann’s original sentence was suspended while he appealed his conviction. Appeals judges who ordered his new conviction dismissed his appeal and the state Supreme Court refused to hear another appeal.

Kathleen Hopkins, a New Jersey reporter since 1985, covers crime, court cases, legal issues, unsolved mysteries, and just about every major murder trial in Monmouth and Ocean counties. Contact her at [email protected]

This article originally appeared on Asbury Park Press: Lakewood SCHI founder ‘s new trial decision delayed for testimony

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