WASHINGTON – The man who has been serving as the No. 2 representative in America for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's Kadima Party is a convicted criminal facing a possible lengthy prison sentence after pleading guilty to felony grand larceny and has in the past been convicted of forgery, WorldNetDaily has learned.
Marc Mishaan, who was listed as the vice president of Kadima USA, has been representing Olmert's political party at various public events the past few months.
According to criminal conviction documents obtained from the New York state court system and to community leaders and associates of Mishaan speaking to WND, the Kadima representative has a long history of fraud, forgery and financial improprieties. One Jewish leader accused Mishaan of embezzling from his charity fund.
Kadima USA is the American fundraising and public support branch of Olmert's party.
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Jewish community leaders said they informed Kadima USA officials of Mishaan's documented criminal past, but they said Mishaan continued to serve in an official capacity even after they delivered their warnings.
The Israeli Consulate in New York was still booking Mishaan to represent Kadima at proposed events as of last week.
The new information follows a previous WND article in which Kadima USA was accused by some of plagiarizing on its official website, which contained detailed policy descriptions that were similar – many times word for word – to those published on the Texas Democratic Party's website.
In many instances, the only differences between the Texas website and that of Kadima USA were the inclusion of the words "Kadima," "Jews" and "Israel" in the place of "Texas," "Democratic Party" and "America."
'We were scandalized Kadima would send a criminal out on bail'
Mishaan's latest appearance as a Kadima representative took place on June 11 at Congregation Ohev Zedek, a Jewish community center and synagogue on Manhattan's West Side.
The event, a public debate about Israeli politics, was attended by WND.
Mishaan's appearance was arranged by the Israeli consulate in New York, according to event organizers.
Less than one hour prior to the debate, the synagogue's senior manager said he was informed by a prominent New York rabbi who asked that his name be withheld that Mishaan is a convicted criminal out on bail and awaiting sentencing.
An Ohev Zedek official told WND he and his colleagues were "scandalized … that Kadima would send a criminal out on bail to speak to the community."
Court documents reviewed by WND show Mishaan’s most recent arrest in New York State occurred in June 2005. His arrests and convictions are a matter of public record.
According to documents from the latest conviction, Mishaan was accused of taking $100,000 from a New York City woman by allegedly enticing her into a "mortgage loan-underwriting" arrangement – an arrangement the investigating detective wrote "never took place and did not exist."
As described in the indictment, when the victim asked Mishaan for paperwork relating to the mortgage deal – after having already delivered the money to him – Mishaan allegedly presented her with fabricated papers including a "mortgage agreement" and "letter of intent" purportedly from an area dentist who wanted to borrow $200,000 from Mishaan at a high rate of interest for the purchase of a building.
The indictment stated the dentist never met Mishaan, and contends both the documents and the dentist's "signatures" were forgeries.
After noting anomalies in the alleged mortgage documents the accuser tried but failed to have her money returned.
Mishaan pleaded guilty to the charges in April after his motion to suppress evidence against him was denied. He is out on bail and is due to be sentenced next month.
The New York State Supreme Court has placed conditions on Mishaan's bail. Apparently fearing Mishaan is a flight risk, the file for his latest conviction notes he has family in Israel. The court ordered Mishaan to surrender his passport, rendering him unable to visit the country whose prime minister he has been representing.
Kadima rep has extensive rap sheet
In 2003 court documents show Mishaan pleaded guilty to felony grand larceny and two counts of felony criminal possession of a forged instrument. Though liable to up to 14 years in prison according to court papers, Mishaan's plea deal allowed him to serve two concurrent 5-year terms of probation. He was also ordered to repay $40,000 and $60,000 to two victims.
WND obtained copies of numerous judgments against Mishaan in which he was ordered to repay several New York residents tens of thousands of dollars each. Some of the complaints accused Mishaan of trying to fulfill promissory notes by using forged checks and checks drawn on defunct accounts.
WND has also learned of one case in which an alleged victim of Mishaan tried to arrange repayment through a mediator without going through legal proceedings. The alleged victim expressed concern that if Mishaan went to prison he would be unable to make restitution.
'I'll pay you back on Monday'
A former self-described best friend of Mishaan, who agreed to talk to WND on background, recounted how his relationship with Mishaan changed from friend to victim.
"Back in the mid-1970s we were very close friends. Mishaan comes to me on a Friday afternoon and says: 'Look, I really need to borrow some money, I need to borrow 3,000 bucks – but I'm going to pay you back right on Monday.'
"I said 'Look, Marc, if you really need it you can borrow the money but you don't need to pay me back on Monday. Take a week or two. Why don't you just pay me back next Monday so it's not so hectic?'
"He just insisted 'No, I'm gonna pay it back on Monday.' I said 'OK, Monday then.' It took me over two years to get the money back. He went and did this same thing to at least 20 other people."
Several sources close to Mishaan told WND Mishaan soon began a pattern of moving from neighborhood to neighborhood in the New York City area, befriending residents, allegedly extracting money from them, and eventually leaving town.
A former Mishaan friend told WND, "The lies just became outrageous. He started showing up at places, businesses, parties flashing all types of degrees and papers that said things like 'Dr. Marc Mishaan' and 'Marc Mishaan, Ph.D.' … he was coming in with fake letters after his name and it was totally fraudulent. Some of us who knew him tried to take him aside and say, 'Hey, Marc, what in the world are you doing?' But he just kept doing it."
WND talked with scores of people in the New York Jewish community who claim to have been defrauded by Mishaan. One woman said Mishaan drained her parents of "their entire life savings."
A prominent community leader with Jewish national name recognition, who says he has overseen pro bono investigations of Mishaan on behalf of several of his alleged victims, accused Mishaan of exhibiting a "habitual" pattern of untruthfulness.
"He has a long history of fraud and deception that goes back 30 years. … He moves from community to community and then he just starts the same thing all over again," said the community leader.
A senior official of a respected New York City charity told WND his organization has also had dealings with Mishaan, who once served as a vice president of the charity.
He accused Mishaan of writing checks to himself without authorization, totaling $8,000 in charity funds.
"Everybody was just in shock," the official said. "Nobody in [name of charity] ever dreamed that any board member could do this. Mishaan was fired immediately from the board."
Leaders say they notified Kadima USA of Mishaan's past
The community leader who has investigated Mishaan told WND he warned Kadima USA President Marc Schneier in early June that Mishaan was a felon.
"I called Kadima and warned them, as one is morally obligated to do, that they are dealing with a convicted felon and that they should stay away from him," said the leader.
The community leader said the warnings took place prior to the debate last month in which Mishaan represented Kadima USA.
In a series of conversations with WND, Mishaan did not refute his alleged improprieties. He said he approached Kadima USA because he thought he could help with their cause.
Mishaan said he had a long history of "positive involvement" in Jewish communal affairs, including with Jewish charities and organizations seeking the return of missing Jewish soldiers. Several Jewish community leaders concurred, although those concurring said they were unaware of the criminal charges against Mishaan.
Kadima USA President Schneier would not comment directly to WND. Instead he authorized Charley Levine, former CEO of a Jerusalem-based public relations firm, to speak on his behalf.
"A few months ago [Mishaan] came to Schneier and presented himself as being able to help with Kadima," Levine said. "[Mishaan] was asked last month not to continue associating himself in any way with Kadima USA."
Schneier's office was called two weeks ago and asked if Mishaan continues to speak for Kadima USA. A secretary for Schneier called back the next day and affirmed that Mishaan continues to speak for Kadima in an official capacity.
A call last week to the Israeli consulate in New York regarding names of possible Kadima speakers resulted in a consulate representative providing Mishaan's name and cell phone number.
Mishaan was recently listed as vice president of Kadima USA on a full-page ad in the New York Times taken by the Israeli party.
A press release on US Newswire in May lists Mishaan as vice president of Kadima USA.
Levine said immediately following WND inquiries last week Schneier directed the Israeli consulate in New York to drop Mishaan's name from its official list of Kadima representatives.
Party plagiarized Texas Democrats?
Last month WND reported on similarities between Kadima USA's website and the official site of the Texas Democratic Party.
New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, D-Brooklyn, first brought the website similarities to light. Hikind told WND he thought something was "a little off" upon browsing the Kadima USA site.
"Things seemed very generic, almost like what should be descriptions of an American political party," said Hikind.
So the politician performed a series of Web searches using select sentences from the Kadima USA site. He said the top search results repeatedly linked to the Texas Democratic Party's website.
Upon closer inspection, Hikind learned sections of both sites were almost exactly the same.
"This is rank plagiarism," said Hikind. "Kadima USA copies the policy platform, and I mean literally copies it, from the website of President George Bush's opponents in his hometown of Texas."
One section of the Texas website, titled "The Democratic Mission," states: "United by a sense of purpose and recognition that elections do have consequences, Texas Democrats are working to elect public servants who practice the most fundamental democratic principle: that public policy decisions should be guided by honest open debate. …"
A similar section was featured on the Kadima USA website until it was taken down following a query from a reporter for the New York Jewish Week, a local Jewish newspaper.
According to the Jewish Week, Olmert's American site featured a section titled, "The Democratic Mission for Zion and Israel."
That section stated, "United by a sense of purpose and recognition that elections do have consequences, Kadima USA is working to elect public servants who practice the most fundamental democratic principle: that public policy decisions should be guided by honest, open debate. ..."
The Kadima USA website reportedly even lifted the Texas Democratic Party's take on Middle East policy.
The Democratic website contended that "lasting stability in the Middle East depends upon a true, mutually respectful peace with safe and secure borders and governments dedicated to peace and democracy for Israelis and Palestinians.
"We affirm our long-standing policy that such a peace must result from direct negotiations between willing and responsible partners. Texas Democrats call for an end to all preaching and teaching of hatred and intolerance and for the withdrawal of support from agencies and programs that promote hatred. America must not dictate a solution, but we must be prepared to assist and encourage actions that lead toward peaceful coexistence, and we note with dismay the current administration's lackluster efforts to encourage those who seek a lasting peace in the Middle East."
The Kadima site included word-for-word most of the same paragraph but skipped the last sentence, which criticizes the Bush White House.
Kadima's stated general ideology also mimics the Texas site.
"Kadima believes Israel draws its power from the trust and respect of other nations, not only from the might of weapons," read the Kadima USA site.
The Texas site announces: "Texas Democrats believe America draws its power from the trust and respect of other nations, not only from the might of weapons."
A policy section titled "Education" on the Texas website demands, "Equal opportunity for all Texans to achieve and succeed in their efforts to get a quality education, find a good job, buy a home, provide health care for their families. …"
The Kadima USA platform on education espouses, "Equal opportunity for all Jews to achieve and succeed in their efforts to get a quality education, find a good job, buy a home, provide health care for their families. …"
The Jewish Week noted Kadima's education section does not take into account non-Jewish Israelis, including Arabs, who make up about 20 percent of Israel's population.
At least 17 sections of the Kadima USA site were similar or identical to those featured on the Texas Democratic Party's site.
One paragraph on the Kadima USA website actually spoke out against plagiarism.
"[W]e must build support for strong intellectual property laws that prevent piracy and other forms of theft worldwide," stated the Kadima site.
Kadima rep threatens WorldNetDaily
The sections in question have been removed from Kadima's website.
The Texas Democratic Party's website reportedly was posted in 2004, before the Kadima Party was founded by former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
Some questions even have been raised as to the originality of the Kadima name. The main logo on the Texas site reads, "Moving Texas Forward." Kadima is the Hebrew word for "Forward."
A Kadima official last month warned WorldNetDaily against publishing the website story.
Solomon Vas Diaz, who was listed as executive director of Kadima USA, said, "You are making enemies with the wrong people."
Vas Diaz has since been removed from his Kadima position.
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Aaron Sichel is a writer for WND's Jerusalem bureau.