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More than a dozen Jews, but no Sheldon Silver, among Trump’s last-minute pardons

Jews who made the cut included several whose crimes affected Jewish communities or who had support of Aleph Institute, an organization that works with Jews who are incarcerated

Andrew Silow-Carroll is the editor-in-chief of JTA

New York Observer publisher Jared Kushner, center, CEO Joseph Meyer, left, and editor Ken Kurson attend The New York Observer's 25th anniversary party at The Four Seasons Restaurant on March 14, 2013 in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
New York Observer publisher Jared Kushner, center, CEO Joseph Meyer, left, and editor Ken Kurson attend The New York Observer's 25th anniversary party at The Four Seasons Restaurant on March 14, 2013 in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

JTA — In the final hours of his US presidency, Donald Trump awarded clemency to more than a dozen Jews who had been convicted of crimes — but not Sheldon Silver, the disgraced former New York State Assembly speaker.

Silver was not on the list of 143 people granted clemency, a traditional act for outgoing presidents. That means the former Democratic power broker will continue serving a prison term on corruption charges.

The New York Times reported that Trump abandoned a plan to give clemency to Silver at the urging of New York Republicans and the New York Post.

Among the Jews who did make the cut were several whose crimes affected Jewish communities or who had the support of the Aleph Institute, an organization that works with Jews who are incarcerated.

Here’s who made the list:

  • Alex Adjmi, a New Jersey businessman who served a five-year sentence in a 1996 money-laundering scheme.
  • Michael Ashley, a Long Island mortgage executive who was sentenced in 2019 to three years in prison for bank fraud.
  • Jonathan Braun, who operated a massive marijuana importing operation from his parents’ home on Staten Island, New York, 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.
    Elliott Broidy, the Republican fundraiser who violated foreign lobbying laws on behalf of Chinese and Malaysian interests.
  • Drew Brownstein, a Denver hedge fund manager who pleaded guilty to insider trading charges.
  • Abel Holtz, an 86-year-old South Florida retired bank executive who was sentenced to 45 days in prison in 1995 for impeding a grand jury investigation.
  • Ken Kurson, a friend of Trump’s son-in-law and presidential adviser Jared Kushner, who was arrested in October on charges of cyberstalking his ex-wife. A former journalist and digital entrepreneur, Kurson was once named Journalist of the Year by the Jewish publication The Algemeiner.
  • Hillel Nahmad, a scion of a prominent Jewish art dealer family, who was convicted of a sports gambling offense.
  • Stephen Odzer, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy and bank fraud, received a pardon conditional on repaying his victims. His supporters included Jewish philanthropist Michael Steinhardt, and Trump cited Odzer’s fundraising in honor of his cousin, an Israeli soldier kidnapped and murdered by terrorists in 1994.
  • Aviem Sella, a former Israeli Air Force officer who was indicted in 1987 for recruiting Jonathan Pollard to collect US military secrets for the Israeli government. Israel never agreed to extradite him. Pollard, who moved to Israel in December after serving his 30-year sentence and parole, welcomed the news of Sella’s pardon.

    Aviem Sella giving a lecture in Herzliya in 2012. (Screenshot: YouTube)
  • David Tamman, a Los Angeles lawyer convicted of doctoring documents at the request of a client who was running a Ponzi scheme preying on Iranian-American Jews. His bid for clemency was supported by the Aleph Institute.
    Eliyahu Weinstein, who defrauded his neighbors in the Orthodox Jewish community of Lakewood, New Jersey, in a real estate Ponzi scheme.
  • Shalom Weiss, a Brooklyn-born businessman sentenced to more than 800 years in prison in 2000 in a huge insurance fraud scheme.
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