Two days ago Otisville inmate Sholam Weiss was counting the days until the year 2738, the day he was scheduled to be released from Federal prison. Weiss got the longest sentence for white collar criminals in the history of the Republic, 600 years longer than Bernie Madoff, even though Weiss paid his $125 million restitution in full. Today, thanks to a Presidential pardon, Sholam Weiss danced with his family and friends in upstate New York. Sholam is the guy above with the white beard. Sholam and a few other guys scammed National Heritage Life Insurance Company, based out of Florida, out of $450 million.
Sholam, a member of the bearded Satmar sect, was clean shaven before he got COVID19 in Otisville. After COVID19 Sholam turned to religion. You won’t find any athiests in a foxhole. Sholam grew his Hasidic beard and survived the plague, and lived to see his 700 year prison sentence reduced to gornisht, nada, nothing. Sholam lived to see his day of freedom and redemption.
Sholam lived on the lam for a year in Europe with his stripper shiksa girlfriend hiding from the Feds before he was caught. Sholam’s long sentence was meant to deter others from fleeing from the long arm of the Justice Department. Sholam invested some of his ill begotten gains in Scores strip club in Manhattan. Sholam was partners at Scores with John Gotti Jr. and other mobsters. The party ended when the Feds raided the club and wired up a few guys who were connected to Sholam’s insurance company. The Feds in New York used these informants to bust the mob for extortion. The Feds in Florida used these same informants to bust Weiss and his assocites for the massive fraud they committed at National Heritage Life Insurance Company.
Weiss was locked up in the Otisville medium with Sholom Rubashkin, who got a commutation of his 27 year sentence a year ago. I was locked up in the Otisville camp, which was separated by the medium with a barbed wire fence. Every now and then I could look through the fence and see Rubashkin or Weiss, or Mordechai Samet, who got an early release this past September. Rubashkin and Weiss ran the chapel for the Jewish inmates locked up in the medium. Samet and Weiss were cellmates. I heard from guys in the medium that Weiss and Rubashkin didn’t get along. Weiss had shaved his beard and was not as religious as Rubashkin and Samet. Weiss, Samet and Rubashkin were the only religious Jews in the medium for several years. I used to watch Samet jog every day in the medium with an African American inmate.
There was never more than a dozen Jewish inmates in the Otisville medium. In the camp there was always about 80 or more Jewish inmates out of a total of 118 inmates. The medium had about 700 inmates. Today the camp probably has less than 30 Jewish inmates and around 65 total campers, due to COVID19. If you had under ten years you went to the camp, if you had more than ten years you went to the medium. The Otisville medium was not as violent as most medium prisons, State or Federal, but there were reformed gang members and lifers locked up there, as well as aging mafioso who were sentenced in the 1980s.
Otisville inmate Jonathan Braun was scheduled to be released in 2027. Braun was an international pot dealer. Braun got ten years. Braun is a very wealthy man. Braun ran a high interest money lending operation for years while he waited to be sentenced. Borrowers filed lawsuits against him for his strong arm collection practices. Braun is currently celebrating his pardon with his wife and children in his new house he purchased recently. Braun said goodbye to New York Democratic political power broker Sheldon Silver, who is still locked up in the Otisville camp. Silver has four years to go. Silver tried to get a pardon but was stymied by Republicans as well Democrat Andrew Cuomo, who called the Donald to object to 76 year old Silver’s early release. According to the New York Times, Cuomo suggested that “the Jewish community” was lobbying the Donald to pardon Silver. Cuomo would be called a racist if he said that Snoop Dogg and the African American community lobbied to get Death Row Records founder Michael Harris a commutation. Harris was doing a life sentence for conspiracy to commit murder and drug dealing. Harris was a model inmate after 25 long years in Federal prison. It was time to go home.
Former Otisville inmate 43 year old Helle Nahmad was granted a post prison pardon. Helle did about 6 months in the Otisville camp for his role in a high end illegal sports betting ring, which also included Molly Bloom, who was the main character in the movie “Molly’s Game.” The Nahmad family is worth billions of dollars and owns the largest collection of Picasso paintings in the world. I was locked up with Helle. I taught Helle how to mop a floor in Otisville. Apparently billionaires don’t teach their children how to mop. Al Capone’s nickname at Alcatraz was “the wop with the mop.” Helle’s nickname at Otisville was “H’ell.” Helle was a decent guy. Helle regaled us with stories about the high life, where he partied with the rich and famous. Helle’s best friends were Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Brady and Tom’s wife supermodel Gisele. Everyone wanted to be Helle’s friend. But Helle didn’t like phonies. Helle liked to spend every night playing backgammon with a heavy set Italian guy from Maine, who was missing a few teeth, named Sonny. Sonny told everyone that Helle and him were besties and Helle was going to set him up in the art business when he got out. Sonny ended up getting shipped out of Otisville because he failed to pay a big gambling debt he had with another inmate. Sonny almost had a heart attack in my cell. Helle kept in touch with some of the guys after he got released, but he was not the type to give away money to ex-cons. He was a businessman. He sometimes compained about people on the outside who tried to rip him off. Helle had one of the actors from the Wolf of Wall Street visit him in Otisville.
45 year old real estate fraudster Eliyahu Weinstein was locked up in Fort Dix and was scheduled to be released on December 25, 2033 when he got a commutation of his sentence. Eli operated a real estate investment scheme out of Lakewood, NJ, and scammed Jewish investors in Lakewood out of a half a billion dollars, if not close to a billion. Eli is celebrating his freedom in Lakewood, but he will be back in Fort Dix if he violates his probation and starts up new scams. I predict that Eli will end up back in prison in a couple of years. Guys like Eli are addicted to crime. Its possible that Eli invests all his money in legitimate businesses and goes straight. Time will tell.
Two Otisville guys who tried to get pardons and commutations apparently didn’t make the cut, Hassan Nemazee and Rabbi Mendel Epstein. Iranian-American Hassan Nemazee was a big time fundraiser for the Democratic Party. Nemazee was close to the Clintons, but not close enough to get pardoned by the Democrats. Nemazee was able to scam Citibank out of $200 million dollars by submitting a few phony brokerage statements of his net worth. Nemazee got ten years in Otisville. I was locked up with Nemazee. Nemazee was an arrogant old man. Nemazee was the Persian prince. Nemazee finished his sentence a couple of years ago. Before Nemazee got released he got in a physical fight with another old man. The guards laughed at them and threw them in solitary. I assume the Donald rejected Nemazee for the same reason that the Donald rejected Democrat Sheldon Silver, which is strange because there is speculation that the Donald will form his own political party. 75 year old Rabbi Epstein is locked up in Butner, after getting transferred out of Otisville for medical reasons. Epstein got COVID19. Epstein is scheduled to be released in 2024. I don’t know why the Donald passed over Epstein. Epstein and Nemazee may have better luck with Joe Biden.
A video of Shulem Weiss a few hours after his release from Otisville was posted on Youtube. Weiss, along with the other guys who were pardoned, were very wealthy and had big time political connections. Its not fair that they got released while hundreds of thousands of other guys are still locked up in animal cages. But anyone who has ever been locked up for a substantial period of time is celebrating their release. Nobody forgets the day of their liberation. The punishment does not always fit the crime. I met hundreds of guys in Otisville. I only know of two guys who ended up back in prison.
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