BY NORM KENT'
PUBLISHER, SOUTH FLORIDA GAY NEWS.COM
A joint investigation by the organization Truth Wins Out and the SouthFloridaGayNews.com has revealed that the spokesperson for a New Jersey based national religious group seeking to ‘cure’ homosexuals is a convicted felon who has been hiding his past.
The leader of JONAH, Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality, Arthur Abba Goldberg, is now also serving as President of his Jersey City temple. He was sent to federal prison 20 years ago for a conspiracy to defraud the United States of America.
Additionally, Goldberg is presently the Executive Secretary of NARTH- the National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality. The group hopes to heal “unwanted homosexuality” through “therapeutic care.”
One more group he supervises is PATH- Positive Alternatives to Homosexuality- a coalition of religious, ministerial, and ex-gay groups promoting “non-gay alternatives to homosexual lifestyles.” He is their President.
Goldberg, who reinvented himself in 2000 as the founder of JONAH, was found guilty in 1989 of numerous felonies in multiple jurisdictions. The charges ranged from federal mail and wire fraud to conspiracy counts as a result of a bogus bond writing scheme.
Goldberg was sentenced to eighteen months imprisonment in the Central District of California, which he served concurrently with a an Illinois sentence imposed at the same time. It was followed by five years of supervised probation and a $100,000 fine, eventually paid on November 24, 1999.
K. William O’Connor, the U.S. attorney who put him away, said at his sentencing that Goldberg was “a man who habitually took advantage of people who were economically dependent upon him; that he did not hesitate to lie or cheat or cover up to achieve his criminal aim. His greed has cause incalculable harm...”
Goldberg’s arrest and conviction rocked Wall Street when it went down two decades ago. A purported whiz kid and investment guru, he had been often referred to on the Street as “Abba Dabba Do” and “Abba Cadabra.”
Those names and that past were all secreted when Goldberg founded JONAH after getting out of prison. Abandoning the conspicuously identifiable middle name of ‘Abba’, Goldberg authored a book for Red Heifer Press under the name of ‘Arthur Goldberg.’
Titled “Light in the Closet: Torah, Homosexuality, and the Power to Change,” Goldberg re-created himself as an author and spiritual leader, purporting to help individuals struggling with their sexual identity, telling gays “you can change.” He certainly did.
“We have long considered Arthur Goldberg a con-artist, but our investigation shows he is also an ex-con,” said Wayne Besen, Executive Director of Truth Wins Out.
“His diabolical past mirrors his dishonest present-day work with JONAH. Whether it was shady deals on Wall Street or shading the truth on gay issues, Goldberg is someone who lacks credibility and can’t be trusted,” said Besen.
“The Torah is the Book of Truth,” Besen concluded, “and Goldberg has now delivered us a book of lies.”
Born in 1940, Arthur Abba Goldberg identified himself his entire life by using all three of his names, at least until he got out of prison and started JONAH.
The TWO and SFGN investigation into his past revealed that when he authored articles for the American University Eagle in 1961 as an undergraduate, his byline was ‘Arthur Abba Goldberg.’
When he received his bachelor’s degree from American University in 1962 and his law degree in 1965 from Cornell University, the diplomas were given to ‘Arthur Abba Goldberg.’
When he authored land use articles for the Urban Law Journal in the early 1970’s as a young lawyer it was under the name of ‘Arthur Abba Goldberg.’
It was also under the name ‘Arthur Abba Goldberg’ that he was admitted to the New Jersey and Connecticut Bar Associations, and it was under that name he served as the executive vice president directing Matthews & Wright, Inc., a New York underwriting firm, in which he was a major stockholder.
It was in the capacity as shareholder and vice president that Goldberg orchestrated a scheme of selling $2 billion in fraudulent municipal bonds for communities ranging from the impoverished city of East St. Louis to Chester, Pennsylvania, to the West Pacific U.S. territory of Guam.
The stories of his criminal acts were methodically detailed in the Philadelphia Inquirer, a paper based near the Chester community scammed severely by the fraud.
It was under the name of ‘Arthur Abba Goldberg’ that a United States grand jury on Guam indicted him in late 1987 on 52 counts of bribery, fraud, and conspiracy.
On September 26, 1989, ‘Arthur Abba Goldberg’ pled guilty in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California to three counts of mail fraud. He was sentenced to 18 months as part of a plea bargain.
The trial had actually been moved to California because so many residents of Guam had been financially harmed by the bogus investment scheme it was thought a fair trial in that venue was impossible.
Goldberg and others also indicted at Matthews & Wright had knowingly conspired together to enter into a fraudulent scheme to sell fake bond issues but take commissions on them anyway. They arranged to bribe officials, deceive investors, and issue bogus checks to non existent parties.
In exchange for underwriting $300 million in bogus deals, Goldberg and his investment firm, Matthews & Wright, received a fee of $10.5 million. They created the impression these bonds would be used to help construct desperately needed single family housing in Guam and elsewhere.
Separately, Goldberg also pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States in another falsified bond-writing scheme. In that matter, Goldberg participated in a conspiracy to ensure that the bonds were deemed prematurely to take advantage of a favorable tax law relating to transactions.
The 900 page presentence report prepared by prosecutors prior to his sentencing was scathing. It indicated that Goldberg’s conduct was “knowingly and willfully dishonest and fraudulent.”
K. William O’Connor described Goldberg as having engineered “a conspiratorial fraud of spectacular scope,” which purposefully duped “unsophisticated Pacific Islanders.” One witness against Goldberg said he treated the citizens of Guam as if “they were cannibals.”
O’Connor said that Goldberg’s deceitfulness crippled Guam’s economy, crushed investors, undermined public confidence in the bond industry, and cost the U.S. Treasury millions in lost taxes.
U.S. District Judge Jesse W. Curtis, Jr. then sentenced ‘Arthur Abba Goldberg’ to 18 months in prison, allowing both the Illinois and California sentences to run together. He imposed fines and restitution totaling $400,000, an amount later reduced by an appellate court.
In a separate civil proceeding, the Disciplinary Review Board of the New Jersey State Bar Association recommended taking away his law license. They found “Goldberg’s criminal convictions clearly and convincingly demonstrated his participation in activities that reflected adversely on his honesty, trustworthiness, and fitness as a lawyer.”
The New Jersey Supreme Court then disbarred Goldberg on November 9, 1995, citing his criminal convictions and his “reckless indifference to a conspiracy of considerable magnitude.”
New Jersey’s highest court even noted that “We are aware of respondent’s active involvement in community service and his efforts to resettle numerous immigrants from the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.” But, they concluded, “Goldberg’s conscious participation in the illegal activities leading to his criminal convictions outweighs these mitigating factors.”
In his capacity as the Director of JONAH, Goldberg formed and serves as a director of a tax exempt 501(c)(3) charitable corporation, whose website promises that it is “offering hope, compassion, direction and vitally needed information to gay strugglers, their families, friends, and surrounding community.” He formed the group using the name Arthur Goldberg, sans Abba, one month after getting his federal supervision of five years’ probation concluded.
In a 2001 interview not long after he began his religious crusade, Goldberg told the Herald News in Paterson, New Jersey, that homosexuality is the result of “psychological trauma.’ And that “six months to three years of weekly therapy and prayer can cure it.” He did not say anything about whether 18 months in a federal prison might also help.
Today, on the NARTH website, despite his conviction and disbarment, Goldberg proudly holds himself out as a ‘doctor of jurisprudence,’ displaying the title of ‘J.D.’ adjacent to his listing.
NARTH is one of the country’s most vocal critics of the American Psychological Association’s position paper concluding that homosexuality is normal, not aberrational. NARTH advocates the doctrine that homosexuality is a ‘developmental disorder’ and a ‘treatable condition.’
The ‘Jewish State’ is a central New Jersey newsweekly that Goldberg gave an interview to in 2007. He identified himself as a former deputy attorney general and Connecticut law professor, telling the reporter that “gays have been led astray in terms of your authenticity to yourself.” Meanwhile, he failed to disclose his criminal past.
“People are not born gay; there’s no such thing as a gay gene,” he added, complimenting that remark with the statement all gays “can readapt” from “their gender deficiency.” He then said homosexual children should be treated the same way as “if a child was addicted to drugs or alcohol.”
Goldberg is presently living conspicuously as the President of Congregation Mount Sinai in Jersey City. The temple offers itself out as a “welcoming environment for all people to express, deepen and rediscover their Jewish heritage.”
Last year, as a guest in the audience at the end of a Montel Williams show discussing ex-gays, he shouted from the audience at the host, interrupting the show, to say gays needed help. You can see it on You Tube.
“I’ve always been one to try to help the underdog,” he said.
But that is not what Judge Curtis concluded at Goldberg’s sentencing on September 26, 1989.
“I find,” the court stated, “that, Arthur Abba Goldberg, you have openly conspired against the United States by knowingly and recklessly engaging indifferently in a series of dishonest acts of considerable magnitude.”
JONAH’s website brags that it teaches that ‘homosexual strugglers can journey away from homosexuality with psychological and spiritual help, peer support, and personal empowerment.’
In 2007, JONAH established a separate division, The Jonah Institute for Gender Affirmation, to provide research and clinical strategies for “growth out of homosexuality.”
Maybe Arthur Abba Goldberg should have started a peer group for “growth out of felonies.” His days of failing to own up to his are over.