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The Schmooze

Jonah Hill’s Character in ‘War Dogs’ Based on Shmuley Boteach’s Nephew

Celebrity rabbi Shmuley Boteach isn’t tweeting about the biggest media event of his family’s life: His nephew is the subject of a major motion picture out next week from Warner Brothers.

Boteach may be sitting out this particular press event because the life story of his nephew Efraim Diveroli is not exactly a proud one. “War Dogs,” based on a 2011 Rolling Stone article, stars Jonah Hill as Diveroli, a Miami 22-year-old who won a $300 million Pentagon contract to supply munitions to the Afghan army.

In real life, a New York Times expose published in 2008 alleged that the ammunition Diveroli’s firm supplied to the Afghans was “more than 40 years old and in decomposing packaging.”

Months after the Times story, federal prosecutors charged Diveroli with using banned Chinese ammunition to fulfill his contract. He pled guilty and was sentenced in 2011 to four years in prison. Tablet magazine reported in 2014 that Shmuley Boteach had appeared at the 2011 sentencing and asked the judge for leniency for Diveroli.

“My nephew discovered today that he is neither clever nor wise,” Boteach told the judge, according to Tablet’s report. “He always believed if he threw enough money at a problem, his army of lawyers…that they would rescue him. And today here we sit. All the king’s horses and men cannot save him from the sentence you will impose.”

Diveroli was released from prison in 2014. In 2016, a company partially owned by Diveroli sued Warner Brothers over “War Dogs,” claiming that it used material from Diveroli’s self-published memoir.

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