Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
Breaking News

Blackmailer of Sharon, Mass. Sex Scandal Rabbi Sentenced

A 31-year-old man was sentenced to four to five years in prison for extorting hundreds of thousands of dollars from a Boston-area rabbi who was having an affair with a male teenager.

Nicholas Zemeitus, who pleaded guilty last month to extortion and larceny for blackmailing Rabbi Barry Starr of Sharon, Massachusetts, also will face three years of probation after he is released from prison, the Boston Globe reported. He was sentenced on Friday.

Zemeitus, who is from the Boston area, had threatened to expose Starr’s two-year affair with a 16-year-old male unless he was paid by the rabbi. Starr resigned a year and a half ago from Temple Israel, a Conservative synagogue in Sharon.

Starr allegedly paid Zemeitus nearly half a million dollars — taken from synagogue funds and borrowed from his congregants. Much of the money came from the rabbi’s discretionary fund, including checks altered by the rabbi. Starr also borrowed thousands of dollars from an elderly congregant, a Holocaust survivor.

Zemeitus claimed to be the older brother of the teen, who was 18 when the affair ended.

Zemeitus said he met the rabbi on Craigslist and then met Starr at his home after an exchange of emails.

Authorities have found no evidence that Starr had sex with minors, according to the Globe. Starr was charged last year with larceny and embezzlement. He pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.

Starr, a married father of two, is credited with expanding the congregation he served for 28 years to over 600 families. He has served on the Rabbinic Cabinet of the Jewish Theological Seminary and as president of the Massachusetts Board of Rabbis, as well as the region’s Rabbinical Assembly.

Engage

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.