EXCLUSIVE: Rabbi answers accusations

June 17, 2009 3:48:19 PM PDT
The rabbi at the center of a New York City jailhouse scandal spoke out to Eyewitness News.Rabbi Leib Glanz is accused of giving preferential treatment to Jewish inmates, and even planning a bar mitzvah behind bars. Now, he is defending his work as a prison chaplain.

On Tuesday, the rabbi resigned. Now, he says he is cooperating in the investigation and insists he did nothing improper.

"I've done everything I could to help people out without expecting anything back in return," he said.

The Orthodox rabbi says he's proud of his record, providing kosher meals, counseling and religious services to inmates in the New York City prison system.

But critics say he created an enclave of privilege exclusively for Jewish inmates and even booked an Orthodox rock star for a jailhouse bar mitzvah party.

A former prisoner at the Manhattan Detention Complex, more infamously known as The Tombs, spent nearly three years behind bars. "Murray" also spoke exclusively with Eyewitness News. His identity is being protected in case other might want to retaliate against him.

CLICK HERE for more of NJ Burkett's exclusive interview with the former inmate

"Rabbi Glanz would say, "Are you Jewish?" Murray said. "And then, he would ask for the congregation. He would ask for the rabbi's name. He would ask certain questions about my mother or about my father, to confirm whether or not I'm really Jewish, or I'm just there saying that I am to get all the perks."

Those perks, he says, included playing dice games and poker, watching videos and making unlimited phone calls. All of it, he says, happened in the Jewish chaplain's office at The Tombs in Lower Manhattan or on Rikers Island.

"I think [the rabbis] did it, really, just to help other people," Murray said. "They're thinking in their minds that what they're doing is okay. I mean, technically, we did services for a couple of minutes."

Murray says the kosher food was catered, and that non-Jewish inmates kept quiet because they got the leftovers.

"And here I walked in with chicken dinners," Murray said. "Fresh chicken. So they adored me. They loved me."

So now we know why the non-Jewish inmates kept quiet. But what about everybody else? What was was in it for them? The city's Department of Investigation is determined to find out.

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WEB PRODUCED BY: Bill King


NEW YORK AND TRI-STATE AREA NEWS

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