At a sentencing hearing in January, Kaplan described Georgiton’s actions as “long-standing conduct that was corrupt at his heart.” But the judge spared Georgiton prison because he didn’t want to lock up a 63-year-old man as more than 16,000 new cases of Covid-19 were diagnosed every day in New York City.
“It’s a difficult balance to find,” admitted the judge.
As Kaufman awaits his fate, fewer than 5,000 new cases of Covid-19 are reported daily in New York.
Thousands of federal prisoners were returned to house arrest last year. In July, the Biden administration said 4,000 non-violent inmates were to return to prison after the pandemic emergency ended.
Kaufman’s troubles began after a childhood friend, Robert Nemeroff, reported his criminal activity to the government.
The two grew up playing basketball in the back alleys of their Bellmore homes on Long Island. In college, they crossed the northeast together to see the Grateful Dead. Kaufman became managing director of Melrose, which had been run by his father and grandfather and became the city’s largest lender in the taxi business. Nemeroff was the credit union‘s marketing director for 22 years, but was fired in 2016, when Uber overwhelmed the taxi industry and losses skyrocketed.
Nemeroff filed a whistleblower complaint with regulators, alleging “Nepotism, improper use of Melrose funds, improper favors to friends and family, improper benefits from vendors and members… and engaging in questionable and risky business practices.” The government seized Melrose in 2017, and Nemeroff was a witness at Kaufman’s trial. He testified that he acted out of concern for the safety and soundness of the fund.
“It’s a lie,” Kaufman’s wife Debi said from the gallery.
Tom Canova, an intellectual property lawyer who used to go to concerts with Kaufman and Nemeroff, said this year the grim situation reminded him of the Grateful Dead song “He’s Gone,” which the lyrics say : “Rat in a drainage ditch, caught on a limb / You know better, but I know him.
“Robbie is gone,” Canova said. “He’s the rat in the drainage ditch.”