Candidate’s wife arrested

Our Town, Sept. 29, 1985

The wife of an ultra-right candidate in New York City's Sept. 10th Democratic primary was arrested last month on a charge of attempted theft in connection with fundraising activities for one of her husband's political organizations.

Joyce Helen Rubinstein, 33, of 3615 Greystone Avenue in the Bronx, was arrested on August 7th in Princeton, New Jersey, and charged with "attempted theft by deception," according to Princeton Borough authorities. The arrest occurred at the home of Mrs. Anne H. Cresson, a 77-year-old woman who allegedly had turned over a $75,000 coin collection to an associate of Mrs. Rubinstein several days previously. Mrs. Cresson and her son, David Cresson, described the incident to Our Town. (See below.)

Mrs. Rubinstein's residence at the time of her arrest was the same as that listed for mayoral candidate Judah Philip ("Phil") Rubinstein, a follower of Lyndon H. LaRouche, on nominating petitions filed with the City Board of Elections. Joyce Rubinstein is the wife of Phil Rubinstein according to Mr. Rubinstein's mother, Mrs. Betsy Rubinstein of Baltimore, and also according to several ex-members of the LaRouche organization who knew the couple well.

According to Brendan O'Sullivan, landlord at 3615 Greystone Avenue, the occupants of the Rubinstein apartment have moved out. Repeated attempts to contact them through various LaRouchian office phone numbers were unsuccessful.

Mrs. Rubinstein's attorney, Joel Reinfeld, described the charge against his client as groundless. On her behalf, he has filed a $1 million dollar civil rights suit in federal district court in Trenton against three Princeton Borough police officers, charging false arrest. According to Reinfeld, the police had held Mrs. Rubinstein in custody until the coin collection was returned, then scaled the charges down to a disorderly persons offense. "The police merely acted as collection agents when a woman decided not to go through with a pledge," he said.

Princeton authorities say they are still actively investigating the incident and its possible link to other LaRouchian fundraising efforts in the area. According to Princeton Borough Prosecutor Gayl Mazuco, the charge against Mrs. Rubinstein is still pending in municipal court.

The organization on behalf of which Mrs. Rubinstein allegedly solicited the coins from Mrs. Cresson was Caucus Distributors, Inc., one of. several LaRouche-connected businesses currently under probe by a Federal grand jury in Massachusetts in relation to allegations of credit card fraud. In March, Federal district court judge A. David Mazzone in Boston issued contempt orders against Caucus and three other LaRouchian businesses, and levied fines on them of $10,000 a day each for failure to answer grand jury subpoenas of their financial records.

In the firm's certificate of incorporation on file in New York County, Phil Rubinstein is listed as one of five "initial directors," along with LaRouche's security chief, Jeffrey Steinberg. The 1981 certificate states that the purpose of the corporation is to "promote the political ideas and beliefs" of the National Caucus of Labor Committees (NCLC), LaRouche's cadre organization.

Mrs. Cresson and her son David Cresson gave Our Town their version of the coin collection incident. They alleged that Mrs. Rubinstein had contacted Mrs. Cresson by phone to ask if she had any stocks, bonds or other assets that could be used as collateral for loans to help Ronald Reagan and "the government."

Mrs. Cresson, a registered Republican, said she told Mrs. Rubinstein that she owned a coin collection, and that Mrs. Rubinstein offered to pay a high rate of interest. When Mrs. Cresson agreed, a man whose name she does not recall came to the house and picked up the coins. He gave her an unsecured promissory note which stated that Caucus would pay her 12 percent annual interest on the $75,000 value of the coins (to be adjusted on appraisal). The promissory note consisted of a printed form on the letterhead of Caucus Distributors and was allegedly signed by Joyce Rubinstein.

Mrs. Cresson became nervous about the deal and called Mrs. Rubinstein to ask that the coins be returned. Mrs. Rubinstein refused, claiming the coins had been sent to Chicago for appraisal, but then arranged to visit Mrs. Cresson’s home to discuss the matter further. There, she was arrested by Princeton police officers who had been alerted by David Cresson.

"She was very smooth, the way she invited herself into my home." Mrs. Cresson told Our Town. "She told me they collect three quarters of a million dollars a week."

According to Mrs. Cresson, the coins were flown in from Chicago several hours after Mrs. Rubinstein's arrest. "I went down to the police station at 2 A.M. to identify them," she said.

"This whole thing has disrupted me," Mrs. Cresson added. "I live on a very small income, my husband's in a nursing home....I can't afford the loss."

A coin expert told Our Town that an expectation of 12 percent interest on the appraisal value of a coin collection would be unrealistic, since the loan-to-value ratio of coin collections is so low. "A bank would discount 50 percent immediately and even then you couldn't get a loan for the full [discounted] value," said Dr. Michael Bates, a curator at the American Numismatic Society. Dr. Bates estimated that a borrower would be lucky to get a loan of $25,000 on a collection appraised for insurance purposes at $100,000.

Caucus Distributors is a major vendor for the National Democratic Policy Committee (NDPC), LaRouche's political action committee, according to papers on file with the Federal Election Commission. In 1983-84 and the first half of 1985, the NDPC made payments of $338,260.29 to Caucus, leaving a debt of $22,126.02. Phil Rubinstein is the NDPC's New York regional director, as well as a founder of Caucus.

Our Town was unable to learn if Caucus was a vendor for Mr. Rubinstein's NDPC-sponsored mayoral campaign which garnered 9,186 votes citywide. According to Bea Dolen, executive director of the New York City Board of Elections, Mr. Rubinstein has not filed the campaign finances report required under state law. Ms. Dolen said that a list of about ten candidates from the Sept. 10th primaries has been forwarded to the city's corporation counsel because of failure to file. The list includes both Mr. Rubinstein and the NDPC candidate for controller, Dennis Speed.