Three defendants pleaded guilty in federal court on Wednesday to conspiring to defraud a Holocaust reparations organization out of $57.3 million, CNN reported.
Genrikh Kolontyrskiy, Moysey Kucher and Dora Kucher, all of whom are residents of Brooklyn, helped produce and process thousands of fraudulent applications for the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany that are under investigation.
The organization, also known as the Claims Conference, distributes more than $400 million a year from funds provided by the German government to victims of the Holocaust.
U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, issued a statement saying, "Our efforts to hold to account all of the individuals who participated in defrauding an organization that exists solely for the purpose of aiding victims of Nazi atrocities continues.”
The defendants aided in defrauding two funds managed by the Claims Conference, the Article 2 Fund and the Hardship Fund, of $45 million and $12.3 million, respectively, CNN reported, citing court documents.
The Article 2 Fund makes monthly payments of around $400 to survivors of Nazi persecution who make less than $16,000 per year "and either lived in hiding or under a false identity for at least 18 months," according to the U.S. Attorney's office.
The Hardship Fund pays a one-time payment of $3,500 to "victims of Nazi persecution who evacuated the cities in which they lived and were forced to become refugees."
According to court documents, Kolontyrskiy, 80, knowingly processed fraudulent applications for payment while employed with the Article 2 Fund, while Moysey Kucher, 66, and Dora Kucher, 58, recruited individuals to provide identification documents that were used to prepare fraudulent applications for both funds, in exchange for money paid out to the false applicants.
The three defendants were arrested in 2011 and are among 31 people who have been charged with participating in the scheme. Ten former Claims Conference employees have been charged to date.
Kolontyrskiy faces a maximum of 40 years in prison, while Moysey Kucher and Dora Kucher each face a maximum of 20 years in prison. All three defendants are scheduled to be sentenced in August, according to CNN.