One of the lowest points in U.S. and Israeli relations came in 1997 when Samuel Sheinbein, an American teenager, savagely murdered another teenager as practice for a later planned murder. He then fled to Israel and as a Jew claimed the right to become a citizen (and thus avoid extradition). He is now dead after grabbing a gun and shooting several guards before being gunned down himself in Haron Prison. The irony is that he was close to the point where he would ask for release from prison.
Sheinbein’s crime was all the more horrific because of his casual and joking treatment of the murder. Sheinbein conspired with his fellow classmate, Aaron Benjamin Needle, at the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Maryland. Sheinbein liked a girl and said that he would pay $5,000 for someone to kill the boyfriend of his crush and $1,000 for someone to lure his rival into a vehicle. He wanted however to practice on an innocent person. Needle gave him the victim after getting into a fight with Alfredo Enrique Tello, Jr. Sheinbein acted like the murder was a game with a notebook listing items like “Zap, pepper, metal restraints, rainsuits . . . X-acto hobby knife, plastic bags: as well as noting next to a Dujitsu 2000 knife that it was “recommended by Consumer Reports.” He included large shoes to wear since “If they don’t fit, u must acquit.”
The teenagers proceeded to lure Tello to a place where he was hit with a a stun gun, and then choked and stabbed. He was then finished off by being beaten with a shotgun. The teenagers then took his body to a vacant house owned by a friend where they burned the body and dismembered it. However a realtor preparing the property smelled the body in the garage and called police. Sheinbein then fled. It became an outrage for many who accused his wealthy family of engineering his flight to Israel. Many called for the suspension of aid to Israel which refused to extradite the teenager. He was later sentenced to 24 years in prison by an Israeli court. (Israeli law was later changed to allow extradition but require sentences to be serve in Israel).
Needle later hanged himself.
Sheinbein has now claimed his final victims — a final cost to his flight and an added burden for those in his family who arranged it. One of the wounded guards is in critical condition and was close to death. At least three guards were wounded.
Police were speaking with Sheinbein after the initial shootings but he then fired at them again. Notably, Sheinbein who had received love letters in prison through the years from Israeli woman was recently allowed to take a furlough. He tried to buy a gun while on furlough — an obvious indicator of what would occur later at the prison.
Most responsible for the flight was his father, Sol Sheinbein, though acting to protect a son is a natural instinct for any parent. Indeed, many parents might find it hard not to take advantage of an escape option for a son. The difference here is that this teenager was clearly a danger to others and just murdered an innocent teen. This was not some accident or act with mitigating circumstances. Sol Sheinbein is an attorney with dual citizenship in the United States and Israel. Sol Sheinbein allegedly brought Samuel his passport, purchased the ticket to Tel Aviv, Israel, and drove him to John F. Kennedy International Airport. Sol Sheinbein was brought up on bar charges which found that he had acted unethically for obstructing or hindering a police officer and that, therefore, his conduct violated MRPC 8.4(b). However, Sol then followed the same tactic as his son and fled to Israel with a pending 1998 arrest warrant for hindering or obstructing a police investigation. He also was never tried for that crime. He was disbarred and, after it was learned that he was continuing to practice patent law in the United States, he was banned from work with the U.S. Patent office. However, Israeli firms have continued to pay him to work and live in Israel as a fugitive.
A “Sol Sheinbein” is listed with the patent law firm of Ehrlich and Fenster but makes no mention of the case or the fact that Sheinbein was disbarred in the United States or is in fact a fugitive from justice or was barred from work with the US Patent Office. It simply says “In 1997, Sol came to Israel, and worked as a patent attorney at the patent firm that Gal Ehrlich worked, and joined Gal Ehrlich’s firm at the time of its inception.” There is no confirmation on the site the this is the same Sol Sheinbein that fled in 1997. He is listed as a graduate of George Washington University. The firm is located outside of Tel Aviv. One news account says that Sol Sheinbein was going by ‘the name Shlomo, lives with his wife Victoria in a house he bought in Tel Aviv, and works as a patent law consultant.”
Sol Sheinbein is quoted in the Israeli newspapers are dismissing any notion of returning to face charges: “In 2002 Sol Sheinbein told Haaretz that he has no wish to return to the U.S. “Why should I pay a lawyer and stand on trial? After all, there is a possibility that they would find me guilty. This is political persecution. The prosecution is angry over its failure to extradite my son so its punishing me.” Well, I do not think that it quite the whole of it.