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"Jewish Indiana Jones" charged in NY Torah fraud

Rabbi holds torah over mosaic texture with Star of David, Sept. 10, 2001.
AP (file)

NEW YORK - A man who claimed he crisscrossed the globe rescuing Torahs as a "Jewish Indiana Jones" has been charged with mail fraud. Authorities say he fabricated stories to dupe contributors to his charity.

Menachem Youlus is charged in a federal criminal complaint unsealed Wednesday in New York City. He was released on $100,000 bail.

Court papers said the owner of a Wheaton, Md., bookstore carried out the fraud from at least 2004 through last year. They say he pocketed hundreds of thousands of dollars through the "Save a Torah" charity he co-founded as a nonprofit organization.

Authorities say he spent some of it on private school tuition for his children and personal expenses including meals and health care.

Attorney Paul Rooney says Youlus denies the accusation.