Menachem Youlus spun wild tales of daring and adventure in which he was the kippah-wearing hero, ferreting out Nazi-purloined Torah scrolls all over Europe, but his stories were money-making fictions. On Thursday Rabbi Youlus pleaded guilty to embezzling or defrauding contributors to his “Save a Torah” charity to the tune of $862,000. While Mr. Youlus would tell of uncovering buried Torahs at infamous locations such as Auschwitz and being jailed and sometimes beaten in the process, he would really just buy the sacred scrolls from dealers then deposit contributions to the charity in his own accounts or bill his charity with big invoices. He also profited from the “rescued” Torahs, which could sell for up to $32,000.
Menachem Youlus could be sentenced to as many as 40 years in prison.
In a statement on its website, Save a Torah expressed sadness over Rabbi Youlus’s deception and said his guilty plea was “an important step in putting this unfortunate episode behind us.”
No one has acknowledged the “Indiana Jones” claim by suggesting penalties against Mr. Youlus include repeated viewings of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.