Janitor gets jail time for theft of 8 Torahs

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A former janitor at the Jewish Center of Kew Gardens Hills was sentenced in Queens Supreme Court last Thursday to one year in jail after pleading guilty to stealing the temple’s eight Torahs, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.

Eric Giraldo, a 24−year−old who had lived and worked in the temple at 71−25 Main St. in Kew Gardens Hills, took the eight Torahs and their sterling silver adornments, worth more than $100,000, sometime between Aug. 9 and Aug. 16 of last year, Brown said.

After removing the Torahs from the temple, Giraldo brought them to the house of his friend, Alan Lozano, at 165−09 Union Tnpk., Brown said. Giraldo had planned to sell the Torahs, according to the DA. Police later recovered the Torahs from a closet in Lozano’s house.

“This case is particularly troublesome because a trusted employee with access to valuable and important materials chose to break that trust for possible financial gain,” Brown said in a statement. “The sentence is both justified and necessary.”

Giraldo pleaded guilty last month to third−degree attempted grand larceny. Lozano entered a guilty plea to petit larceny last month and was sentenced to 40 days of community service.

Supreme Court Justice Dorothy Chin−Brandt also issued an eight−year order of protection barring Giraldo from visiting the temple he once called home.

Members of the temple were devastated in August to discover the Torahs had been stolen.

“I break down every time somebody asks about it,” Herman Saltzman, the synagogue’s chairman of memorials and pews whose wife is the synagogue’s vice president, told TimesLedger in August. “We got to the point in the ceremony where the curtains are drawn to reveal the Torah and all that was there was a white background.”

A woman who answered the phone Tuesday at the Jewish Center of Kew Gardens Hills said they had no comment.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e−mail at or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 174.

Posted 6:34 pm, October 10, 2011
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