Fraud-charge Chasid faces extradition

A court has recommended the extradition of a member of the US-based strictly Orthodox Skverer community who fled to Britain to avoid multi-million dollar fraud charges.

On Tuesday, City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court cleared the way for Avrum David Friesel, 56, to stand trial in the US.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith (who is due to be guest speaker at the Community Security Trust’s annual dinner in March) must now decide whether to rubber-stamp his extradition.

But Mr Friesel’s barrister, Jonathan Goldberg QC, said it could take up to a year to arrive at a final decision.

He has been instructed to appeal against a possible extradition and to take the case to the House of Lords if necessary. Mr Goldberg said: “This is just the first stage of what will be a long battle.”

British police, assisted by US marshals, arrested Mr Friesel last April in Stamford Hill, London.

He was one of seven men named in a federal indictment in 1997, accusing them of stealing millions of dollars from federal education and anti-poverty programmes over a 20-year period.

Four of the men were convicted in 1999 on conspiracy, fraud and embezzlement charges and are now out of prison.

But Mr Friesel, from New Square village in Rockland County, New York State, and two others fled.

He has been in London since March 1999. He married an English-born member of the Stamford Hill community, a widow with eight children.

Strictly Orthodox community leaders raised £2.5 million to secure his release on bail.

The Torah teacher claims he should not be sent back to the United States because he could be jailed for six years, while none of his co-defendants served more than 30 months after their sentences were commuted by President Clinton.

    Last updated: 1:47pm, January 22 2009