A Brooklyn developer accused of fleecing dozens of Hasidic families in a massive subprime mortgage fraud scheme took cover behind a divine defense on Tuesday.
Eliyahu Ezagui’s lawyer told jurors his client received “a blessing” from the late Rabbi Menachem Schneerson to build affordable housing for the Lubavitcher community in Crown Heights.
“It was a mitzvah to him, a Hebrew word that means a good deed and an obligation,” defense lawyer Susan Necheles said in her opening statement in Brooklyn Federal Court.
“Family after family who trusted the defendant are fighting against foreclosure of the homes they bought from him,” Schaeffer told the jury.
Prosecutors built a criminal case against Ezagui after the Daily News revealed in 2008 how he allegedly conned buyers into purchasing condos, then refused to hand over the deeds when the construction was completed.
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/money/2010/02/03/2010-02-03_apt_scam_developer_says_rebbe_backed_him.html