slaughterA spokesman for the New York State Attorney General’s office reported today that Abraham Novitzky, 48, of Brooklyn, charged with impersonating a ritual slaughterer (shochet) and misbranding as kosher non-kosher meat, is free on $5,000 bail after being arrested in Hoboken, N. J. He faces trial in a Brooklyn, N.Y. criminal court February 25. If convicted, he could be fined $200 and sentenced to six months in jail.

Nathan Riley, the spokesman, said Novitzky was arrested in a Hoboken telephone booth on January 20 while talking to New York State Assistant Attorney General John Ryan about the charges.

Riley said that, on January 22, Novitzky pleaded guilty to charges of failure to pay bills against him of $1,000. Novitzky ended the case by pleading guilty in a Flemington, N.J. court to a specific disorderly persons charge and paying the $1,000.

At that time, Riley told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Novitzky surrendered to New York authorities and was returned to a Brooklyn criminal court to face charges of mislabeling as kosher veal that was not kosher. Criminal Court Judge Jerome Becker offered Novitzky 30 days in jail in return for a guilty plea. Novitzky refused and Becker put him on bail for $5,000. He was released on bail to face trial February 25. Riley said it is not yet known which judge will hear the case.

Background of the Case

The original warrant, issued at the request of Attorney General Robert Abrams and J. Roger Barber, New York State Commissioner of Agriculture, charged that though Novitzky was not qualified to be a shochet, he served in that capacity for the Great American Veal Company of Newark, N. J. last summer when he allegedly misbranded what the warrant called a substantial amount of veal.

Abrams said his office started an investigation after Rabbi Schulem Rubin, director of the Kosher Law Enforcement Division of the Department of Agriculture and Markets (DAM), informed him that substantial amounts of non-kosher veal, labeled as kosher, allegedly by Novitzky, had been shipped by the veal company to a kosher butcher shop in Brooklyn.

Two shipments of the allegedly bogus kosher veal were seized by DAM inspectors last September 4. Riley said the single count on which Novitzky faces trial was based on that seizure.

Riley said the veal company was forced into bankruptcy last October by the charges and is still operating, though on a much reduced scale. He said the company no longer sells kosher meat of any kind. Riley said the company faces a single count charge of misbranding, with a possible fine of up to $5,000, when its case will be heard simultaneously with that against Novitzky on February 25.