Prominent Jewish Citizens Granted Pardons & Clemency from Trump Prior to DC Departure

Eliyahu Weinstein

By: Fern Sidman

On Wednesday morning, President Trump along with first lady Melania, departed the White House for the last time, en route to their estate in Palm Beach, Florida.

The former president stopped to make a statement to pool reporters outside the White House and thanked his staff and those who supported him throughout his presidency. He did not take any questions. From there, he and the first lady walked to Marine One for the short trip to Joint Base Andrews where Trump delivered his departure address to an ebullient crowd of supporters that included such family members as daughter Ivanka, son-in-law Jared Kushner, daughter Tiffany and her fiancé, Donald Jr and girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle, Eric Trump and his wife Lara, and some of his grandchildren among throngs of others who were issued special invitations.

“We’ve accomplished so much together,” Trump told the cheering crowd.”People have no idea how hard this family worked — and they worked for you. They could’ve had a much easier life.”

Looking back at his term in office, Trump told the gathering, “What we have done has been amazing by any standard. We’ve left it all on the field.”

Melania told the crowd, “being your first lady was my greatest honor. Thank you for your love and your support.”

Trump concluded his remarks by saying, “Have a good life. We will see you soon.”

On Tuesday night, Trump released the list of those for whom he granted pardons for crimes they committed and also granted clemency to others.  They amounted to 73 pardons and 70 commutations. Of particular interest to the Jewish community are those who received pardons and commutations from hours before his term concluded.

According to a report on the Yeshiva World News web site, President Trump commuted the sentence of Eliyahu Weinstein of Lakewood, New Jersey. This commutation is supported by former U.S. Attorney Brett Tolman, former Representative Bob Barr, former U.S. Attorney Joseph Whittle, Professor Alan Dershowitz, Representative Mark Walker, Representative Scott Perry, Representative Jeff Van Drew, Jessica Jackson of the Reform Alliance, The Tzedek Association, Dr. Danny Feuer, and numerous victims who have written in support.

Mr. Weinstein is the father of seven children and a loving husband. He is currently serving his eighth year of a 24-year sentence for a real estate investment fraud and has maintained an exemplary prison history. Upon his release, he will have strong support from his community and members of his faith.

Among those who wrote letters pleading for Weinstein to be released were Hagaon HaRav Chaim Kanievsky and the Boyaner Rebbe.

President Trump commuted the sentence of Shalom Weiss, formerly of Boro Park, Brooklyn. Weiss was the recipient of what is believed to be the longest-ever white-collar prison sentence – more than 800 years in prison in 2000.

This commutation is supported by former U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese, former Solicitors General Ken Starr and Seth Waxman, former United States Representative Bob Barr, numerous members of the New York legislature, notable legal figures such as Professor Alan Dershowitz and Jay Sekulow, former U.S. Attorney Brett Tolman, and various other former elected officials. Mr. Weiss was convicted of racketeering, wire fraud, money laundering, and obstruction of justice, for which he has already served over 18 years and paid substantial restitution. He is 66 years old and suffers from chronic health conditions.

President Trump granted a full pardon to Alex Adjmi, a prominent member of the Syrian Jewish community of Brooklyn and Deal, New Jersey. This pardon is supported by Haim Chera on behalf of his late father Stanley, Robert Cayre, the Sitt family and numerous other community leaders.  Mr. Adjmi has utterly devoted himself to his community and has never turned down a charitable cause that has sought his assistance.  Quite to the contrary as he actively seeks out those in need to assist

Mr. Adjmi’s  exceptional generosity to any person in need is legendary and as such, he volunteered his time and resources to head up the expansion committee of the Special Children’s Center in Lakewood, New Jersey. This $10 million project allowed the center (that is dedicated to providing the highest level of care for physically challenged children and adults) to significantly enlarge their campus and add features to their multiple programs.

President Trump granted a full pardon to Aviem Sella. Mr. Sella is an Israeli citizen who was indicted in 1986 for espionage in relation to the Jonathan Pollard case. Mr. Sella’s request for clemency is supported by the Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer, the United States Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, and Miriam Adelson. The State of Israel has issued a full and unequivocal apology, and has requested the pardon in order to close this unfortunate chapter in U.S.-Israel relations.

President Trump granted a full pardon to Kenneth Kurson. Prosecutors have charged Mr. Kurson with cyberstalking related to his divorce from his ex-wife in 2015. In a powerful letter to the prosecutors, Mr. Kurson’s ex-wife wrote on his behalf that she never wanted this investigation or arrest and, “repeatedly asked for the FBI to drop it… I hired a lawyer to protect me from being forced into yet another round of questioning. My disgust with this arrest and the subsequent articles is bottomless…” This investigation only began because Mr. Kurson was nominated to a role within the Trump Administration. He has been a community leader in New York and New Jersey for decades. In addition, Mr. Kurson is a certified foster parent, a successful business owner, and is passionate about various charitable causes. Mr. Kurson is an upstanding citizen and father to five beautiful children.

Also granted a full pardon by Trump was Hillel Nahmad, a scion of a prominent Jewish art dealer family, who was convicted of a minor infraction.  This pardon is supported by members of his Sephardic Jewish community. Since his conviction, Mr. Nahmad has lived an exemplary life and has been dedicated to the well-being of his community. The Nahmad family are internationally renowned art collectors and are said to have the largest collection of Picasso paintings. Moreover, they are chief benefactors to a panoply of worthy charities.

President Trump granted a full pardon to Elliott Broidy. Mr. Broidy is the former Deputy National Finance Chair of the Republican National Committee.  This pardon is supported by Representative Devin Nunes, Representative Ken Calvert, Representative Jack Bergman, Representative George Holding, Ambassador Ric Grenell, Bernie Marcus, Malcolm Hoenlein, Eric Branstad, Tom Hicks, Saul Fox, Lee Samson, Rabbi Steven Leder, Dr. Alveda King, Father Frank Pavone, Major General Clayton Hutmacher, Lieutenant General Bennet Sacolick, Mr. Bruce Brereton, Rabbi Steven Burg, Rabbi Pini Dunner, Rabbi Meyer May, and Rabbi Mordechai Suchard.

Mr. Broidy was convicted on one count of conspiracy to serve as an unregistered agent of a foreign principal. Mr. Broidy is well known for his numerous philanthropic efforts, including on behalf of law enforcement, the military and veterans programs, and the Jewish community.

President Trump granted a full pardon to Abel Holtz. This pardon is supported by Representative Mario Diaz-Balart and friends and business colleagues in his community. Mr. Holtz is currently 86 years old. In 1995, he pled guilty to one count of impeding a grand jury investigation and was sentenced to 45 days in prison. Before his conviction, Mr. Holtz, who was the Chairman of a local bank, never had any legal issues and has had no other legal issues since his conviction. Mr. Holtz has devoted extensive time and resources to supporting charitable causes in South Florida, including substantial donations to the City of Miami Beach.

President Trump commuted the sentence of Michael Ashley. This commutation is supported by Professor Alan Dershowitz, Pastor Darrel Scott, Rabbi Zvi Boyarski, The Aleph Institute, Rabbi Hirschy Zarchi, Gary Apfel, and Bradford Cohen. Mr. Ashley was convicted and sentenced to 3 years in prison for bank fraud. Notably, Mr. Ashley’s sentencing judge said, “I don’t have any concern that you are not truly remorseful. I know that you are a changed man.” Since his conviction, Mr. Ashley has spent time caring for his ailing mother and paying his debt back to society.

President Trump commuted the sentence of Jonathan Braun. Mr. Braun has served 5 years of a 10-year sentence for operating a massive marijuana importing operation from his Orthodox Jewish parents’ home on Staten Island, New York. He had his sentence commuted after serving five years in prison. Braun reportedly fled to Israel before being arrested, then remained on house arrest for a decade before being sent to jail.  Upon his release, Mr. Braun will seek employment to support his wife and children.

President Trump granted a full pardon to Drew Brownstein, who, other than this conviction, was described by his sentencing judge as someone who “goes out of his way to help people that are less fortunate.” This pardon is supported by the Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division, Makan Delrahim, and several of Mr. Brownstein’s friends and family. Mr. Brownstein was convicted of insider trading and has since paid his fines and forfeitures in full. Both before and after his conviction, Mr. Brownstein has volunteered extensively as a youth coach with the Boys & Girls club in Denver and the Jewish Family Services of Colorado.

President Trump commuted the sentence of Noah Kleinman. Mr. Kleinman is a 45-year old father of two children. The mother of his children unfortunately passed away during Mr. Kleinman’s incarceration. Mr. Kleinman has served 6 years of a nearly 20 year sentence for a non-violent crime to distribute marijuana. Mr. Kleinman has had an exemplary prison history and has worked to remain close to his children and his father. Upon release, he looks forward to living with his father, working for the family business, and caring for his children.

President Trump granted a full pardon to David Tamman. Mr. Tamman’s pardon is supported by the Aleph Institute, former Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Louis Freeh, and former United States Attorney Kendall Coffey. Mr. Tamman was a partner at a major American law firm when he doctored financial documents that were the subject of a Federal investigation. These actions were done at the behest of a client who was perpetrating a Ponzi scheme upon unsuspecting investors. Mr. Tamman was convicted of his crimes following a bench trial and completed his seven-year sentence in 2019. Mr. Tamman accepts full responsibility for his actions and numerous friends and colleagues have attested that he is a decent man who experienced a terrible lapse in judgment for which he has already paid a significant price.

President Trump granted a conditional pardon to Stephen Odzer. This pardon is supported by former Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, Sigmund “Sig” Rogich, Jason Greenblatt, Michael Steinhardt, Wayne Allyn Root, Salvador Moran, the Aleph Institute, and numerous members of Mr. Odzer’s religious community. Mr. Odzer pled guilty to conspiracy and bank fraud, for which he was sentenced to 18 months in prison.

Numerous individuals testify to his substantial philanthropic and volunteer activities. His philanthropic endeavors include providing personal protective equipment to front-line workers in New York City hospitals; visiting sick children in hospitals; and donating religious materials to prison inmates and U.S. Service Members around the world. He has also dedicated resources to support and build synagogues in memory of his late cousin who was kidnapped and killed by Muslim terrorists while in Israel. The pardon requires Mr. Odzer to pay the remainder of his restitution order. (