Mark E. Kalmansohn
|Mark E. Kalmansohn|
Los Angeles, California U.S.
|Occupation||Attorney, author, humanitarian|
Mark E. Kalmansohn is the former prosecutor for the United States Department of Justice who hunted down and brought to justice Lucian Ludwig Kozminski, a Jewish oberkapo convicted in 1982 of swindling some 3,000 of his fellow Holocaust survivors. An oberkapo was an SS-appointed enforcer within the German death and concentration camps during World War II.
Early life and education
Kalmansohn, a native of Los Angeles, California, was born in Fort Belvoir, Virginia. He is the son of Dr. Robert B. Kalmansohn and Dr. Katherine W. Kalmansohn. Kalmansohn, who has one brother and one sister, is divorced and has a former stepson.
In 1974, after being awarded a University of California Regents Scholarship, Kalmansohn graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from UCLA with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science. He graduated from UCLA Law School in 1977. While serving as a legal intern for the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Constitutional Rights (Judiciary Committee), Kalmansohn had co-authored two government publications, "Free Press-Fair Trial," and "A Citizens Guide to Individual Rights under the Constitution of the United States of America" (Fifth Ed.) While still in law school, he also wrote "The Law, Lawyers and Literature," (Lex et Scientia, Vol. 12, No. 4, Oct.-Dec. 1976). Kalmansohn received a Diploma in International Law from Darwin College, University of Cambridge at Cambridge, England in 1984. His University of Cambridge thesis, "Application of EEC Articles 86 and 87 to Foreign Multinationals," was later published by the Law Review of the University of Amsterdam (Europa Institute), Kluwer Publishers (Amsterdam, The Netherlands).
In the late 1970s, inspired in part by the deeds and calling of former U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, Kalmansohn served as a trial attorney at the United States Department of Justice, Antitrust Division, which had hired him as part of the U.S. Attorney General's Employment Program for honor law graduates. Kalmansohn later served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney (Criminal Division) for the Central District of California, where he also served as an Assistant Division Chief for Trial Training. In 1987, Kalmansohn left a partnership at the Beverly Hills law firm of Cooper, Epstein & Hurewitz to serve as Director of North American Anti-Piracy Operations for the Motion Picture Association of America. He later served as a founding partner of McPherson & Kalmansohn, LLP, and subsequently of Kalmansohn & Andersen, LLP, where he is engaged in an entertainment and intellectual property law practice. Kalmansohn is a member of the State Bar of California, the District of Columbia Bar and the United States Supreme Court Bar.
Kalmansohn, a Jewish-American of Lithuanian lineage, served as a federal prosecutor from 1977 to 1983. Years after Kozminski's initial federal convictions, and still vowing rightful justice for the Holocaust survivors twice-victimized by Kozminski, Kalmansohn independently undertook a lengthy investigation and two (pro bono) civil actions to make Kozminski pay for his crimes against humanity. The majority of Kozminski's victims were elderly and many were nearly impoverished.
According to court records from his 1982 trial, Kozminski posed as a restitution counselor who charged exorbitant up-front and service fees, then pocketed German government restitution checks intended for Holocaust survivors. Kalmansohn estimated that Kozminski bilked his victims out of an estimated $1 million, which, with inflation and interest, would have been worth well over $10 million by 2002.
Holocaust survivors Jacob Weingarten and Modka "Max" Wolman took their complaints to federal authorities, who, in turn, assigned the criminal case to Kalmansohn in 1981. After an exhaustive investigation spanning multiple continents, Kalmansohn and then U.S. Postal Inspector Lothar Fritz "Lou" Kinzler obtained grand jury indictments against Kozminski. Pleading guilty to eight counts of mail and bankruptcy fraud, Kozminski was sentenced to twelve years in federal prison.
Kozminski's release and supposed death
Bureau of Prisons records show that Kozminski was released from prison in late 1989, even though he was allegedly spotted walking a street in Beverly Hills, California, in 1987. Kozminski was also reportedly seen numerous times following his supposed death in 1993.
Amid mounting evidence which led to the belief that Kozminski could have faked his death to avoid paying Holocaust survivors, Kalmansohn filed civil suits against Kozminski on behalf of Weingarten and Wolman.
In 1999, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge John W. Ouderkirk ruled that Kozminski's death certificate was false and/or fraudulent and that Kozminski may still be alive. In 2000, a second judge concurred in the earlier finding.
The Hunt For A Holocaust Swindler
Years after Kozminski's 1982 convictions and sentencing, and disturbed that virtually none of the victims' purloined funds had been recovered, Kalmansohn continued to be haunted by the unfinished business of the Kozminski case and the mystery of Lucian Kozminski. Kalmansohn dealt with it in a non-fiction book, updated and reprinted in 2011 entitled The Hunt for a Holocaust Swindler. It was during preparation of this book that, much to his surprise, Kalmansohn discovered Kozminski's scheme to fake his own death. The book is archived by the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, and serves as a textbook for law and social science students worldwide. Feature-length segments on Kalmansohn's quest for ultimate justice have been broadcast by both Dateline NBC and America's Most Wanted. DVDs of these segments are also available at the Hunt4TheSwindler website. A portion of all proceeds will be donated to anti-genocide organizations.
"I really don't know whether Kozminski, who now would be elderly, is dead or alive," said Kalmansohn. "To cite Winston Churchill's observation on Russia, the case remains 'a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.'"
At the 2007 Trump Invitational Golf Classic in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, Kalmansohn donated a signed first edition of Nothing Is Too Late for auction; proceeds benefited the Salvation Army's educational programs for youth at risk. He currently remains engaged in a number of charitable causes and programs, including several which provide assistance to victims of war, violence, oppression or discrimination, both here and abroad.