Until around 2018, Rabbi Goldstein was the director and head rabbi at Chabad of Poway, a tax-exempt religious organization. Goldstein also operated several non-profit entities affiliated with the Chabad, including the Friendship Circle of San Diego. Beginning in 2008, at Rabbi Goldstein’s request, Ellis, who was at the time an employee of Qualcomm, made a $1,000 donation to Friendship Circle. Ellis then requested that Qualcomm match that donation through the company’s corporate matching program. Unbeknownst to Qualcomm, Goldstein met with Ellis in person and returned the entirety of his $1,000 to him in cash, and kept the falsely matched Qualcomm donation. Ellis repeated this scheme in the same way every year through 2017.
According to Ellis’ plea agreement, in 2018, Goldstein sent a message to Ellis through another individual reminding Ellis to make his donation. Ellis thought that it was strange that Goldstein was communicating through an intermediary, and became suspicious that something was wrong. That year Ellis made his annual $5,000 donation to Friendship Circle, but did not get any cash back from Goldstein.