Lakewood business files RICO lawsuit in case involving other businesses, Beth Din, Lakewood leaders, and Baltimore lawyer

Blueberry Funding alleges tactics to “intimidate” it into dropping a lawsuit worth millions from secular court.

Credit: iStockPhoto/Dmytro Synelnychenko

May 15, 2024 11:10 AM


A Jewish-owned Lakewood business is using the RICO Act to sue a lawyer it says was hired by Haredi leaders to pressure him into moving a dispute from secular court to a rabbinical one, according to a complaint filed in a New Jersey court.

Blueberry Funding alleges that Baltimore-based lawyer Isaac Neuberger and his firm tried to “intimidate” it into dropping its $2 million case from secular court and bringing it to a rabbinical court, or bais din, as Haredi customs require when Jews seek justice against fellow Jews.

In addition to the claim that Neuberger violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, often used to prosecute mafia bosses, Blueberry said in the complaint filed in April that Neuberger violated its religious freedom by threatening to retaliate unless Blueberry removed the case from secular court and brought it to Bais Din Maysharim. Blueberry argued that if it weren’t a Jewish-owned business, Neuberger would not have made such demands.

The lawsuit in question is Blueberry’s 2023 case against Leor Moshe, a businessman in Toms River who Blueberry claims ran an illegal Ponzi scheme. In the suit, Blueberry says that Neuberger is trying to help Moshe “dodge his reality and elude harsher consequences” for the alleged scheme he would likely face in the secular courts.

In the 2023 lawsuit, Blueberry, which is run by Abraham Miller, claims Moshe failed to pay back a $2 million investment from Blueberry. Blueberry said Moshe had led it to believe that it was investing in Iruka Capital Group, a “reputable” cash advance company; rather, it claimed, Moshe fraudulently placed the other company’s address on a bank statement he shared with Blueberry to prove he had $25 million invested in it.

In a Ponzi scheme, early investors are paid back using money from later investors, rather than returns from legitimate business ventures. These schemes create an illusion of big profits — an illusion Blueberry said that it fell for. It says other companies invested in the alleged Ponzi scheme, too. Blueberry’s lawsuit against Moshe is still ongoing.

Blueberry alleges that after he initiated legal action, Moshe reached out to community leaders in Lakewood, who in turn hired Neuberger. Blueberry doesn’t name the community leaders who it claims retained Neuberger, but it claims their goal was to make it so that “Mr. Moshe could avoid potential criminal charges, and keep his illicit activities relatively quiet from the public at large.”

Blueberry said that Neuberger threatened to seek a rabbinical summons if Blueberry did not drop the suit, which Blueberry said “systematically created communal pressure.” According to Blueberry, Neuberger threatened to retaliate, referring to Blueberry as recalcitrant in one email and saying that a non-Jewish creditor “is willing to proceed against the recalcitrant people and is NOT obligated to go to Bais Din,” implying that the non-Jewish creditor might pursue Blueberry in secular court.

Blueberry also claims that Neuberger charged the parties to the case a total of $250,000 for legal services and invoiced Blueberry for its proportion though they consider it to have “unilaterally interfered with the ongoing litigation, not being retained by any party.” As a result, Blueberry is also seeking financial damages, partly because of additional litigation costs it said Neuberger’s actions caused it to incur.

Neuberger did not respond to a message from Shtetl; a woman who answered his office phone told Shtetl that he does not speak with the press. Steven Yurowitz, an attorney for Moshe, did not respond either. A rabbi at Bais Din Maysharim did not immediately return a call. Afiyfa Ellington, an attorney for Blueberry Funding, declined to speak with Shtetl. Iruka Capital Group did not return a call from Shtetl.

Read more in Shtetl:
RICO suit against rabbinical courts brought by founder of ‘Kindlein’ children’s magazine