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Man Charged With Shake-Down Tied to Rabbi Sex Case

A 30-year-old suburban Boston man has been indicted on theft and extortion charges in relation to the abrupt resignation last year of a leading Conservative rabbi over allegations of sex with a teenage boy.

Nicholas Zemeitus, of Quincy, Massachusetts, is charged with eight counts of larceny, two counts of receiving stolen property and one count of extortion, the Norfolk district attorney’s office said..

The charges appear to be the culmination of a yearlong investigation that began shortly before last May when Rabbi Barry Starr stepped down from his pulpit at Temple Israel, in Sharon, Massachusetts. Allegations soon surfaced that over the previous two years Starr, a 64-year-old father of two, paid an extortionist between $200,000 and $480,000 not to expose Starr’s sexual relationship with a teenager.

Starr allegedly borrowed $50,000 from a congregant of Temple Israel, a Holocaust survivor, to pay part of the extortion money.

Several small checks from the rabbi’s discretionary fund also appeared to have been paid into a bank account linked to Zemeitus. Starr was a former member of the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards, the body that sets halachic policy for the Conservative movement.

According to a series of police affidavits, which were obtained last year by the Boston Globe, Zemeitus claimed to be the older brother of a teenager that Starr had had a sexual relationship with when the boy was aged between 16 and 18.

Zemeitus told Starr that he had incriminating emails between Starr and the boy as well as photographs of Starr performing sex acts on the boy in Starr’s bedroom.

Zemeitus threatened to send the material to Starr’s wife, to Temple Israel and to the police unless Starr paid him. Zemeitus is due to be arraigned on May 12 in Norfolk Superior Court in Dedham.

Contact Paul Berger at berger@forward.com or on Twitter @pdberger

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