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Fake Toronto Rabbi Faces Immigration Rap

A former lawyer who calls himself a rabbi was arrested in Toronto and faces extradition to the United States where authorities allege he ran a massive immigration fraud scheme.

For years, the man who goes by the name Rabbi Avraham David, 47, lived the life of a rabbi, writing scholarly articles and a book on Torah and indulging his passion in gematria, or Hebrew numerology. In online postings, he said he was descended from a Hasidic dynasty. He became involved in a downtown Toronto Orthodox congregation.

But authorities in the United States contend the man, whose real name is Earl Seth David, had for 15 years run a multimillion-dollar operation that provided fake papers for thousands of undocumented immigrants. He was arrested in Toronto on Oct. 11.

A Canadian citizen, David passed the U.S. bar in 1988 and practiced law in New York until he was suspended in 2004. He fled to Canada two years later.

Together with 26 other people, he is accused of operating a scheme through his Manhattan law practice. For fees of up to $30,000, clients were allegedly supplied with fake documentation stating they had been sponsored by U.S. employers to help them immigrate to the United States and secure legal status, the Globe and Mail newspaper reported.

His license to practice law was suspended as a result of an unrelated incident some 12 years earlier. According to court documents, David was peripherally involved in a stock manipulation and money-laundering scheme in which he cooperated with authorities and was not charged.

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