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Ex-rabbi gets 5 years for stealing

He was convicted of taking money collected for the poor in Marlboro.

FREEHOLD, N.J. - A former Monmouth County rabbi has been sentenced to five years in prison for improperly spending $86,000 from a fund that his congregation had set aside for the needy.

Peter Light, former chief rabbi of Congregation Ohev Shalom, the Marlboro Jewish Center, pleaded guilty in January to stealing the money for personal use.

Light, 48, spent the money on girlfriends, clothes for himself and an engagement ring, said Michael Danzinger, a past president of the congregation. Of the $100,000 available to Light from the fund, only about $2,000 went to help the needy, Danzinger said.

"You'll have lots of time to reflect on what you've done," Superior Court Judge Ira Kreizman told Light at the sentencing Friday. "Hopefully you'll never be in a position of trust again, because I don't think you can be trusted."

Light was hired in Marlboro in 2004. From 1990 to 2004, he worked at Beth Sholom Synagogue in Memphis.

He resigned in June after talk about misuse of the fund spread through the congregation and temple officials launched an internal investigation.

The results were put into a report that was handed to authorities.