Arthur Goldberg, head of Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality (JONAH), apparently has a hard time breaking old habits – he co-founded the Jewish ex-gay organization a month after he completed parole as part of his sentence for perpetrating fraud.

A 1991 New York Times article tells us:

Arthur Abba Goldberg, the former executive vice president for Matthews & Wright who arranged the bond transaction, was sentenced to 18 months in prison. He had pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and fraud.

The victims of the fraud in this case were entire communities – East St. Louis, Illinois and Guam.  At the time of the article’s publication, East St. Louis was described as “impoverished” and for years had been “bankrupt.” Residents of both were hoping that the investment firm of Matthews & Wright would provide rejuvenation.

Help never came but Goldberg and his associates managed to bring in millions of dollars in profits. As part of the sentence, a judge ordered the defendants to pay East St. Louis a total sum of $7 million, which was placed in a special fund to be used for the city’s benefit.  The citizens of Guam never received any repayment or the promised benefits.  The scandal rocked the (then) $2B municipal bond market with a late 80s version of Bernie Madoff.

Goldberg dropped the “Abba” in his name and co-founded JONAH in 1999, usually opting for just the middle initial.  However, in what seems too coincidental to be such, the longstanding “Arthur A. Goldberg” in the Wikipedia article about JONAH was changed to “Arthur Avrum Goldberg” on February 8th.  The editor goes by the name of Ann Jonah.

Avrum is Yiddish for Abraham, which in turn means “father of nations” or father in general to the Jews.  Abba also means father and so we think Goldberg is being cleverly deceptive here.  We also think we know why this edit was made several days before the current story hit.  This post will be updated once confirmed.

Goldberg also heads Positive Alternatives to Homosexuality (PATH), an ex-gay referral organization, as well as serving as Executive Secretary for the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH). All three organizations have consistently held ties to repeatedly disgraced ex-gay “reorientation coach” Richard Cohen‘s organization International Healing Foundation (IHF), where Goldberg serves as Vice President.  Goldberg is also involved with Rich Wyler’s People Can Change (Journey into Manhood weekends) and both refer to each other.

Watchdog organization Truth Wins Out reports that “The SEC banned Goldberg and his firm from ever selling securities again. In addition to his prison term, Goldberg was disbarred in both New Jersey and Connecticut. Despite that, he lists himself as a Doctor of Laws today on the website of NARTH.” Goldberg is also president of Congregation Mt. Sinai, a Jewish place of worship in Jersey City that doesn’t subscribe to any specific denomination, but offers a “traditional environment.”

According to SFGN, the prosecutor of the bond scandal case against Goldberg went out of his way to emphasize the scope of his depravity:

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…”

To have a criminal past is one thing.  To escape into a new venture so quickly, while hiding that past is quite another.  Good people have done bad things, but they usually own up to them and use them as an example to others.  If one can’t own up to one’s own demons, running an organization that claims to help people change to a more moral way of life is probably not the best idea.

These revelations about Goldberg’s criminal record are the result of a joint investigation between Truth Wins Out and South Florida Gay News. Ex-Gay Watch’s past coverage of Goldberg and his organization can be found here.

Note: The Wikipedia entry on Arthur A. Goldberg was effectively removed unilaterally today. XGW contributor Dave Rattigan, an established wiki user, has restored it, in keeping with Wikipedia’s guidelines.

David Roberts contributed to this article.

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