A man who dubbed himself the ‘Jewish Indiana Jones’ and claimed to have rescued Torah scrolls lost in the Holocaust was charged with fraud by federal authorities on Wednesday.
Menachem Youlus, 50, of Wheaton, Md., faces up to 20 years in prison for allegedly concocting the bogus stories to raise money for his Save a Torah charity.
He was hit with one count each of mail fraud and wire fraud, said U.S. Attorney Preet Bhahara and U.S. Postal Inspector Ronald Verrochio.
Authorities said Youlus owns the Jewish Bookstore in Maryland and co-founded Save a Torah in 2004.
The charity raised over $1.2 million in contributions from 2004 to 2010. Youlus is accused of defrauding the charity out of “hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Bhahara said.
Youlus allegedly lied about finding Torahs scrolls that had been lost or hidden around the world during the Holocaust, including at concentration camps such as Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen, authorities said.