Scam Alert

Arthur Abba Goldberg is reportedly back in court. Although it looks like a fundraising scam is being orchestrated. First the requisite history.

Arthur Abba Goldberg was one of the principals of Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality (sometimes referred to as Jews Offering New Alternative Healing). JONAH — a conversion therapy operator — was founded by Arthur and Jane Goldberg with Theodore and Elaine Berk.

Both couples had gay sons. Both couples still have gay sons. With assistance from the Southern Poverty Law Center, former clients of JONAH put it out of business when a New Jersey jury found it guilty of consumer fraud.

These people make me want to convert from Judaism to Buddhism. Scammers are scammers. In 2017 they reconstituted JONAH as Jewish Institute for Global Awareness. Examining their tax return made it obvious that this was a conversion therapy operation in the same physical space. This put them in violation of a permanent injunction and a stipulation. By agreeing to the stipulation JONAH had been relieved of responsibility for about $3.5 million in legal fees payable to the SPLC.

This past July the same New Jersey judge found them in violation and ordered the principals to pay the legal fees plus new costs incurred in prosecuting the matter again. It is about $3.5 million. And, no, I am not entitled to a piece of the action. When I say that scammers are scammers I am referring especially to Mr. Goldberg. Goldberg spent a couple of years as a guest of the federal government for a massive securities fraud. He was very lucky; facing the possibility of life in prison.

Goldberg also founded a referral operation called Positive Approaches To Healthy Sexuality. The current executive director of that crackpot group is none other than the laughably loony Richard Cohen (Mr. furniture abuse). That begs for a separate post but, for now, enough said.

This past Tuesday, October 15, someone by the name of Anita Carey at the hate group Church Militant wrote: Legal Challenge Mounting to NJ’s Gay Therapy Ban. That would be incorrect. JONAH was never charged with violating the ban which only applies to minors. She goes on to write as a subtitle:

It’s a one-man fight against the Southern Poverty Law Center

That is also incorrect as you will see.

A legal challenge is mounting to New Jersey’s politically motivated ban on therapy for people struggling with LGBTQ identities.

The Jewish Institute for Global Awareness’s (JIFGA) Arthur Goldberg is fighting to restore his rights. After a judge slapped him with a $3.2 million fee for allegedly violating a court order barring him from providing referrals for counseling, he is planning to appeal the decision he says violates his freedom of assembly, freedom of speech and his freedom of religion.

Goldberg is being represented by Michael Laffey of the Messina Law Firm.

Natural Law Defense Fund (NLDF), a non-profit legal firm that defends biblical principals and the Judeo-Christian ethic against government encroachment, is collecting the funds for his legal fees.

Nothing Goldberg does has any effect on New Jersey’s ban. He doesn’t have standing because he was eliminated from the conversion “therapy” orbit in 2015. Ultimately, Goldberg would be time barred with respect to appealing the 2015 ruling. They would have had to have filed a notice of appeal within 45 days of that ruling. Not that it matters but the permanent injunction was part of a stipulation that Goldberg and Berk agreed to.

Ms. Carey gives the impression that JIFGA was a referral service. That is also incorrect. JIFGA was providing conversion therapy. Moreover, the miscreants are barred from any association with conversion therapy. Again, this is something that they agreed to.

The violation of the injunction is a finding of fact in contrast to an issue of law which makes it exceedingly difficult to appeal. I suspect that this is all a scam as you will see. I don’t think that anyone is doing any legal work.

Natural Law Defense Fund, the organization raising money, is a tiny 501(c)3 founded and “run” by a fundamentalist Baptist, Susan P. Friedel. Friedel is also a lawyer and she is with the same Messina Law Firm that represents Goldberg. Indeed, according to the IRS NLDF and the Messina firm share a common address.

So, in other words, a nonprofit is raising funds which go back (in part) to the founder of the nonprofit for work unrelated to the nonprofit; an organization which otherwise does nothing. Its website depicts no other activity.

But there is more.

If I donate money to someone’s legal defense that is not tax deductible. This convoluted conduit attempts to change that which should be impermissible. Congratulations! We are all subsidizing donations to legal fees for possibly non-existent legal work on behalf of a conversion therapy organization which was a scam to get around an injunction and stipulation that the participants agreed to. I do not believe that the Southern Poverty Law Center has any further participation. At least not at this point.

Furthermore, if there is any lawyering anew and if the SPLC has to contest those actions, the Berks and the Goldbergs are only adding to the money they already owe in legal fees. These people are very lucky that the Judge (Superior Court Judge Peter F. Bariso Jr.) did not refer this for criminal prosecution. What they did by setting up a new organization was a fraudulent attempt to circumvent a legal ruling.

I have made several referrals regarding this matter. We will see what happens. Church Militant is an odious, bigoted hate group. However, I do not think that they are participants in what appears to be a scam.

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By David Cary Hart

Retired CEO. Formerly a W.E. Deming-trained quality-management consultant. Now just a cranky Jewish queer. Gay cis. He/Him/His.