Not Kosher: Hot Dog Company Owner Arnie Zaler Flees to Israel to Avoid 30 Counts of Fraud in Denver

thumb_big_hot_dogKosher 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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15 thoughts on “Not Kosher: Hot Dog Company Owner Arnie Zaler Flees to Israel to Avoid 30 Counts of Fraud in Denver”

  1. In the 50s the Knesset passed legislation to allow the government to exercise discretion and choose to allow extradition of a national. The most famous case then was of Meyer Lansky, the crime boss.

    My guess is that Zaler will end up being sent back to the US — he already has a criminal record and, in particular, a record of defrauding Jews — not something that’s going to endear him to Israeli authorities.

  2. PattyC.,
    That is a great name for the restaurant! Mespo,Thanks for your answer. I wonder if the prosecutor will hear from his/her supervisor concerning the silence on the bond issue?

  3. Patty C:

    Do you like the black or the gray waist coat with it? I actually have my eye on one from Gieves & Hawkes. I mentioned them in my response to Jason on another thread. Now that’s great clothing.

  4. mespo727272 1, December 30, 2008 at 2:34 pm

    “Zaler is reportedly now in Jerusalem and planning to open a restaurant there next month.”
    I recommend the name for his new restaurant to be “On the Lamb.”

    You are so b-a-a-a-a-d, mespo! Strut your stuff

    You’ve earned the Golden Fleece…

  5. rafflaw:

    And to answer your question it is very unusual for a guy with this type of history and on these charges (30 counts?) to get pre-trial release without a whimper from the prosecutor.

  6. rafflaw:

    I suspect that our happy hot dog vendor was using temporary passport documents from Israel. He apparently handed over his US Passport and some Israeli documents to the Court as a condition of release, but I feel certain this accomplished conman either held back a set or used another forged name on these documents to make them appear genuine. Sort of like Bogart in Casablanca with those infamous “letters of transit,” made out in blank.

  7. Must be easier than getting your driver’s license replaced! I lost my wallet and had to get mine replaced and my BMV wanted another photo ID (all was lost with my wallet). When I said that I did not have any, since it had all been in my wallet, I asked if they could look me up and I was informed that they could not look up my license and see that it was me, because they needed another photo ID to be sure. I even knew the gal behind the counter!! But these are Indiana laws and I guess they’re that way for a reason.

  8. Another case of our Homeland Security system being lax. How can someone get out of the country with a fake passport with the watch lists in place? If it is so easy to get out with a fake passport, how tough can it be to get in with a fake passport? Maybe Mespo can answer this question. Was this normal for someone facing so many counts to be allowed to be free on an unsecured bond? I smell a rat here.

  9. Butters:

    Like most European countries Israel will not extradite ts citizens. Usually we see a US citizen go to Israel and then claim Israeli citizenship based on the Israeli citizenship of either parent. This reared its ugly head in 1999 during the infamous case of Samuel Sheinbein, whose extradition for murder was refused on these grounds despite his utter lack of affiliation with Israel. Sheinbein was tried in Israel.

  10. “Zaler is reportedly now in Jerusalem and planning to open a restaurant there next month.”


    I recommend the name for his new restaurant to be “On the Lamb.”

  11. lol, forgot about that one.

    Oh well, I’m sure the courts will Ketchup with him soon.

  12. Well to be “frank” here it sounds like Mr Zaler’s story didn’t ‘cut the mustard’.

    I wouldn’t have let him go being such a flight risk.

    Couldn’t they tell this guy was a real wiener?

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