Money (illustration)
Money (illustration)Flash 90

A haredi couple accused of stealing $130,000 from several banks in the US will not serve any jail time, the haredi Hebrew news website Bhol reported.

According to the report, Alexander Mearetz and his wife, residents of Brooklyn, New York, used the money they swindled from the banks to purchase abandoned and dilapidated properties, which they then refurbished. Mearetz was accused of forging documents in order to receive $130,000 in loans from several banks. The banks eventually caught on to the scheme and filed a lawsuit against the couple.

Mearetz fled to Canada after the lawsuit was filed in 2011. He fought the attempts by the US to have him extradited for 5 years, and was finally deported in 2016.

A a protracted legal battle, Mearetz's attorneys agreed to settle, and the couple agreed to plead guilty to 32 counts of fraud.

Despite their guilty pleas, the couple managed to escape jail time. The judge presiding over the case determined that since they had paid back all the stolen money to the banks, they could not be jailed for longer than six months. Deputy Attorney General Andrew Tarkovsky continued to demand that the couple receive 2-6 years in prison.

Mearetz's lawyer convinced the judge to show leniency. He argued that Mearetz, a 34 year old father of 6, was a kind and generous man despite the theft he had committed. Among the stories he told was Mearetz's volunteer work with the Hatzalah medical organization and the time he saved the life of an elderly woman who had been injured in a car accident.

The judge decided in the end to sentence Mearetz to five years of probation. His wife received three years of probation.