Par­ti­san hero ‘cheated old woman out of $250k’

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY DANIELLA PELED

ONE OF the Sec­ond World War’s most fa­mous Jewish par­ti­sans has been ar­rested on charges of cheat­ing a 93-year-old woman out of $250,000.

Aron Biel­ski, born in Stankiewicze, Be­larus, fled to the for­est with his three older broth­ers — Tu­via, Asael and Zus — af­ter the Nazis in­vaded in 1941.

Therethey­se­tu­pa­parti­san­campthat saved 1,200 Jews — a feat recorded in nu­mer­ous books and films, which will be im­mor­talised in a 2008 Hol­ly­wood movie star­ring Daniel Craig.

Now known as Aron Bell, the 80year-old last sur­viv­ing Biel­ski brother has been ar­rested by Florida po­lice on charges of at­tempt­ing to trick Jan­ina Zaniewska into giv­ing him con­trol of her bank ac­counts.

Po­lice say that he and his 58-year-old wife Hen­ryka be­friended the el­derly woman and per­suaded her they were tak­ing her on hol­i­day to her na­tive Poland — only to leave her in a nurs­ing home and re­turn to their Palm Beach home.

Ms Zaniewska was traced to Poland af­ter a bank man­ager con­tacted po­lice, con­cernedthattheBell­swere­with­draw­ing money from her bank ac­count.

The Bells, who face a max­i­mum of 90 years in prison, have pleaded not guilty, claim­ing that Ms Zaniewska — a Catholic who her­self sur­vived per­se­cu­tion by the Nazis — was se­nile. They have been re­leased on £60,000 bail.

Their lawyer, Steven Gomberg, told re­porters that the idea that his clients had stolen the money was “just pre­pos­ter­ous. The woman was all alone, had no fam­ily, and she needed a great deal of as­sis­tance and care.”

How­ever, Ms Zaniewska’s lawyer, Robert Mont­gomery, said there was “no ques­tion” but that there had been theft. “She was taken ad­van­tage of,” he said.

Af­ter the war, the broth­ers — apart from Asael, killed in 1944 while fight­ing with the Red Army — moved to the US. Mr Bell re­tired to Florida 10 years ago.

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