Kosher hot dog maker Arnie Zaler may have pulled off his greatest scam. Facing 30 counts of bank and wire fraud in Denver, Zaler promised not to leave Denver if he was released on an unsecured bond. He handed over his Israeli passport and then a few days later fled to Israel on a different passport.
Zaler was facing 30 years in prison for a fraudulent enterprise involving his kosher hot dog company and Denver sports venues.
Zaler began attracting attention in college as a member of the Students for Democratic Society (SDS) and then ran unsuccessfully for city council in Denver. He then began his checkered career in business.
In the 1990s, he took $100,000 disabled women who was mourning the death of her daughter. He was accused of forging the signature of a U.S. senator. He convinced a judge to delay a fraud trial in 1997 by saying that his father had died — when he was still living. He relied heavily on contacts in the Jewish community, attracting support as a champion for the Israel. Maricopa County prosecutors in 1996 charged Zaler with more than 50 counts of fraud and other crimes. He was sentenced to 14 1/2 years in prison. He was paroled in 2002 and decided to go into his family’s business of kosher hot dogs in Arizona. He was able to get various rabbis to announce the opening of his business despite his past of fraud and abuse.
Yet, with this history, the judge still felt comfortable (without objection from the prosecutors) of releasing him on an unsecured bond.
Zaler is reportedly now in Jerusalem and planning to open a restaurant there next month.
Fugitive flights to Israel has been something of a problem. Perhaps the most notorious was Samuel Sheinbein, who fled after being accused of the murder and dismembering of Enrique Tello, Jr. His flight was reportedly arranged by father, Sol Sheinbein, an attorney with dual citizenship. The father also fled to Israel and there is a warrant out for his arrest. The Israeli Supreme Court blocked extradition in 1999 and in a plea agreement Sheinbein was sentenced to 24 years in Israel but can be released in 2013 — not bad for dismembering a person. He will be 33.
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