I spent 18 months at Otisville Federal prison with an inmate named Moshe Butler. Moshe hailed from a prominent family in the Modern Orthodox world. His father is a big time Rabbi.
When I met Moshe, he was doing a 5 year sentence for fraud. Moshe scammed companies out of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars with all kinds of complex schemes. When he got busted by the Feds he didn’t know which crime it was that he was getting pinched for.
Moshe’s vice was gambling. He stole money to feed the demons running around in his head. Guys with gambling addictions played cards and gambled on sports in the prison all the time. Sometimes they would get into fights because gambling addicts are always in debt. Some guys would wager a can of tuna.
When I was locked up I got in trouble with the other inmates because I sent blogs to Paul Bass, who posted them on his website, The New Haven Independent. I gave guys nicknames on the blogs. Since Moshe is from Teaneck, NJ, I gave him the nickname Teaneck Trouble. I asked Moshe if I could use that name. He said he didn’t like the name because people would figure out that it was him. I said too bad. Sometimes you have to push your weight around in jail. If you don’t display aggressive behavior guys will walk all over you.
Moshe shared his cubicle with former biotech billionaire David Blech or “DB.” DB gambled on the stock market and lost most of his fortune. By the time he ended up in Otisville he was pretty broke. He was also heavily medicated. DB carried around his notes and papers all day and said he was writing his manuscript about how he built the biotech industry back in the 1980s. I don’t know if he ever finished his book. My bunkie Jerry, the Connecticut tax lawyer, told me that Moshe Butler was also writing an autobiography, but Moshe was trying to keep it secret. Jerry is currently trying to get his law license back. Good luck with that Jerry.
Moshe and DB were the perfect match as bunkies. They made a mess of their cubicle. The head guard, ie., Officer Scalboni, was always yelling at them to clean up their cell. Moshe ate like he had a tape worm living in his gut. He ate enough to feed ten guys, and yet was able to maintain a weight of 145 pounds. His diet consisted of junk food, meat, and soda. He kept a case of soda stored under his bed. Teaneck Trouble spent most of the day sleeping and most of the night watching television. DB spent most of the day watching the stock prices.
Moshe and DB never did much work in Otisville. They probably paid other guys to do their assigned jobs. Or the officers felt bad for them, they were not in the best mental condition.
The only time Moshe came to life was on Shabbos. He sang the latest modern Orthodox hit songs. He was constantly getting the 79 year old Satmar Naftuli Schlesinger angry. It didn’t take much to get Schlesinger mad. He was doing ten years for insurance fraud. He burned his factory down three times and collected millions in insurance money. He took his mezuzahs off the door posts of his factory before he lit the torch. No joke.
Moshe also got in many battles with the elderly Litvish Rabbi Pinter. Pinter treated him like a son. Pinter always tried to get Moshe to follow the right path. Many guys didn’t like Pinter’s mussar, but it didn’t bother Moshe, they seemed to have some kind of bond. Mshulum Jacobowitz also tried to give Moshe mussar, to no avail.
I enjoyed spending Shabbos with Moshe. This was the only time I got to see him. The rest of the time he was either sleeping or watching tv.
Some guys complained about Moshe all the time. I never gambled or got into business deals with him so I never had a bad experience with him. To me he was a decent guy. He wasn’t the most outwardly religious guy, but I was always impressed to see him reading a book of Psalms in his bunk every night.
Moshe got locked up in the SHU, the hole, ie., solitary a few times before I arrived. I think he was busted with a cell phone. If you stay in prison long enough you will eventually break some kind of random rule and get thrown in the SHU.
Moshe got out of Otisville in January of 2016. He wrote a letter motion to the judge from Otisville asking that he be sent home early. The judge denied his request. You can read his letter by clicking this link.
Moshe’s latest scheme started in May of 2016, a mere four months after he was released from Otisville. Moshe started committing new crimes while he was still on probation.
Moshe started a company called “Marketing Rehab Group.” Moshe created a fictitious guy named “Ed Wharburg.” Ed was the President of Marketing Rehab Group. Marketing Rehab Group claimed to provide rehabilitation services for guys struggling with addictions. Marketing Rehab submitted fraudulent invoices to one of it’s customers, a company from Hackensack. Ed Wharburg convinced this customer to pay the fraudulent invoices. Moshe cashed the checks. As soon as Moshe had the cash he went on a shopping spree at high end men’s clothing store. Moshe came out of the store wearing the latest fashions. Moshe made a M line to the casinos, where he blew the rest of the money.
The Feds charged Moshe with obtaining money under false pretenses. Adding insult to injury the Feds also charged Moshe with lying to the Office of Adult Probation. Moshe submitted fraudulent monthly income reports to the Probation Office that did not report the income he was getting from his latest scam. Give me a break! The poor guy is a gambling addict. You can read the criminal complaint by clicking this link.
Moshe quickly copped a plea with the Feds. Moshe agreed to plead guilty to a two count information, one count of obtaining money under false pretenses and another count of lying to the Probation office about his fraudulent income. The plea agreement sets the Guideline level at 14, which isn’t too bad given the circumstances. Moshe will probably get another year or two in Otisville, depending on the Judge. You can read a copy of Moshe’s plea agreement by clicking this link.
I have been hearing jailhouse rumors all summer that Moshe was going to get busted again. I was not surprised. Moshe was voted the inmate most likely to get busted upon release. Moshe’s $250K bond was posted by a prominent New Jersey rabbi and his wife, who should be commended. Don’t skip town Moshe. Moshe signed his plea agreement in August, yet the Feds just filed his criminal case a couple of weeks ago.
Although I joke around about Moshe, I am not happy about the prospect that Moshe may be going back to prison. Humor is a defense mechanism. Having been in jail, I wouldn’t wish jail on anyone, even my worst enemy. Jail will not provide the help Moshe needs. Jail will do more harm than good. I wish the best for Moshe. I speak for many of the guys who were locked up with him.