Federal courthouse
Federal courthouse in downtown San Diego. Photo by Chris Stone

Sentencing is scheduled Monday afternoon for Alexander Avergoon, who pleaded guilty for his role in the donation fraud scheme involving former Poway rabbi Yisroel Goldstein.

Goldstein pled guilty in 2020 to running tax-evasion and other schemes while at Chabad of Poway, accepting donations from conspirators so they could claim tax deductions. But he returned a portion of the money to donors and retained a cut for himself – collectively, more than $500,000 – as a fee.

Avergoon, a longtime San Diego real estate agent and businessman, was arraigned in federal court two years ago following his extradition from Latvia to San Diego.

His charges stemmed from two investment fraud schemes in which he was accused of stealing more than $12 million from unwitting investors.

Avergoon was indicted in the Southern District of California in August 2019 and located by Latvian law enforcement authorities two months later.

He faced charges of wire fraud, money laundering and aggravated identity theft.

His role in the Chabad case, prosecutors said, involved referrals to Goldstein. Avergoon admitted that from 2010 to 2015, he recruited at least nine taxpayers who made more than $275,000 in fraudulent “donations,” then acted as a conduit to secretly return most of the money to the conspirators.

Prosecutors also accuse Avergoon of scheming with Goldstein to use false information, fabricated invoices and other records to pretend to be eligible for federal and state emergency funds, grants or donations and private loans.

Both, in their pleas, agreed to pay restitution to recoup early $900,000 in losses to the public programs.

Nine others, including Goldstein’s brother and a former Qualcomm director, have pled guilty or been charged in connection with the wide-ranging case. Sentencing hearings for Avergoon, 44, have been delayed at least twice, including in July.

– Staff and wire reports