A Brooklyn rabbi who blackmailed a hedge fund (we suspected had blackmailed Steve Cohen and SAC Capital back in February – turns out we were right) plead guilty yesterday.His lawyer says the rabbi, Milton Balkany, blackmailed Steve Cohen because he had heard the founder of SAC Capital was “Jewish and … rich.”
Well he got that right, so he can’t be so dumb, but he’s pleading that his only error was making a stupid mistake.
Aiding this defence, slightly, we guess, is the fact that he was blackmailing Cohen in order to raise money for two Brooklyn schools, or so he says.
But we’re not too sure how seriously we can take what he says after his lawyer made this defence.
His lawyer’s exact words were, “He merely engaged in a stupid plan… You want to find him guilty for using bad judgment? For that, we plead guilty today.”
Aren’t all crimes exercises in bad judgment that deserve punishment?
Maybe that stupid defence seomwhat helps the rabbi’s case, probably. Because it’s idiotic. And so could the rabbi’s convuluted blackmail scheme.
This winter, the rabbi told the hedge fund that someone he was counseling knew about an instance of SAC Capital’s insider trading.
We’ll keep quiet, the rabbi told SAC, if you pay. The hedge fund making $2 million donations to two Brooklyn schools, the Bais Yaakov school (turns out Balkany is the dean) and another school, would seal the deal.
Apparently Balkany kept going back to negociate with SAC, which was working with the FBI at this point, and he kept talking and digging himself deeper into a hole of obvious guilt.