Russell Dwayne Lewis, a man who falsely claimed to be a billionaire rabbi astrologer, was sentenced to eight and a half years in prison for defrauding a close friend and a widow with four children. According to prosecutors, Lewis is accused of using fake stories to defraud victims, including allegedly making a phony $290 million bid to buy the department store Lord & Taylor.
Using aliases and stolen identities, Lewis concocted elaborate schemes that involved fraudulent claims of wealth and power. He stole the identity of a man named Clifford Getz, used the Social Security number of a 13-year-old boy in Ohio, and even forged a passport. Despite having only a high school education, Lewis claimed to have grown up in London and falsely stated that he had earned a Ph.D. in theoretical mathematics and statistics, as well as master’s degrees in neurophysics, genetics, and quantum physics. He also lied about being a rabbi and claimed to be worth billions of dollars, depending on who he was speaking to.
Lewis bragged about running a secretive family investment firm, Neviim Equity, out of an office in Beverly Hills, California. He also falsely claimed to have worked for the Central Intelligence Agency, the US Secret Service, and the Los Angeles Police Department. Among his fabricated stories was one in which he claimed to have used astrological charts to help pick the jury for the O.J. Simpson double-murder trial in 1995.
In August, Lewis was arrested and accused of making a $290 million bid in bankruptcy court for Lord & Taylor, which went bankrupt in 2020. The prosecutors stated that the bid resulted in weeks of due diligence processes, legal discussions, and negotiations, costing the business thousands of dollars. Although no profit was made from the deal, Lewis was charged in relation to Lord & Taylor, a charge that was dropped under his plea agreement with prosecutors. Additionally, he has agreed to forfeit the $3.8 million he stole, along with some artwork found in his Beverly Hills home.
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