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Man charged with swiping silver from boro synagogues

Cops allege security cameras show Kew Gardens resident Roman Iskhakov at Young Israel of Queens Valley, from which several silver religious artifacts were stolen.
TimesLedger Newspapers

A man who authorities allege was caught on camera stealing several valuable religious artifacts from three Queens synagogues was apprehended by police and arrested last week, the Queens district attorney said.

Kew Gardens resident Roman Iskhakov, 26, faces charges of stealing from Congregation Ahavath Sholom in Forest Hills June 18, the Beth Gavriel Center for Bukharian Jews in Forest Hills Aug. 14 and Young Israel of Queens Valley at 141-55 77th Ave. in Kew Gardens Hills Aug. 16, the DA said.

He was allegedly caught on surveillance camera in the latter two incidents, putting several items in his pants pockets and removing money from a charity box at the Beth Gavriel Center and entering the Young Israel of Queens Valley synagogue and leaving with two silver rimonims, authorities said.

Iskhakov is charged with burglary, grand larceny and criminal possession of stolen property, the DA’s office said. If convicted, he could be sentenced to seven years in prison, the DA said.

The stolen items are valued at more than $3,000, the DA said, also alleging Iskhakov admitted to police that he took the religious artifacts from the Congregation Ahavath Sholom and Young Israel of Queens Valley and sold them to pawn shops.

George Srolovits, executive director of Young Israel, said detectives and the prosecutor called him about the arrest the night it occurred.

“I feel sorry for him,” Srolovits said of Iskhakov’s arrest Aug. 28. “But it had to be done. I’m glad that he won’t be able to do this anymore.”

In addition to the two silver rimonim ornaments, a silver pointer and breast plate are believed to have been stolen from Young Israel. Srolovits said none of those items have so far been recovered.

The DA alleges Iskhakov also stole breast plates, a silver pointer, a wine cup and a silver-coated plate from Congregation Ahavath Sholom and a silver plate, a silver pointer and $200 from a charity box from Beth Gavriel Center.

Several of the silver items are traditionally used to adorn the Torah and often are donated in the memory of a loved one, having sentimental value in addition to monetary.

A man who answered the phone at the Beth Gavriel Center but did not give his name or occupation said the neighborhood was generally quiet and theft was rare. He said he was not happy a man had to be arrested, but he recognized it as a way to stop crime.

“You tell me how you were feeling if someone was stealing from your home,” he said. “It’s not a good thing. It’s not a good feeling,” he said.

Reach reporter Karen Frantz by e-mail at kfrantz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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