A federal judge gave a former Calamus, Iowa, man leniency for his mental illness before sentencing him Wednesday for defrauding the Social Security Administration from prison.
U.S. District Judge Stephanie Rose sentenced Jeffrey Soboroff, 62, to time served at the Muscatine County Jail, where he has spent the last nine months.
An emaciated-looking Soboroff appeared in U.S. District Court, Davenport, wearing a yarmulke, saying he is an Orthodox Jew and alleging the jail put him under lockdown for refusing to eat food that he says wasn’t kosher.
“I only eat kosher,” he said, although he admitted to eating non-kosher food smuggled by other inmates.
A rabbi testified previously that the jail’s food preparation for Soboroff did not violate kosher laws, the judge said.
The judge gave Soboroff a chance to speak before handing down his sentence, and he went into a long history of his life that veered into issues not related to the criminal case. She cut him off after about 25 minutes, telling him, “I know you well enough to know we could be here all night.”
Throughout his 90-minute hearing, Soboroff interrupted the judge and Assistant U.S. Attorney Cliff Cronk several times.
Rose ordered Soboroff to pay $6,857 in restitution. He was accused of collecting more than $18,000 in Supplemental Security Income benefits while he was incarcerated. He wasn’t entitled to the benefits while in prison.
After Soboroff’s jail term ends Monday, he will go to a halfway house for a 120-day re-entry program before he begins three years of supervised release. He will have to undergo a mental-health evaluation and substance-abuse treatment.
“You have a very significant psychiatric illness,” Rose told Soboroff. “You are operating at a different wavelength than other people.”
Soboroff has sought treatment for mental illness since 1969 and suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and passive/aggressive disorder, Rose said.
The judge also outlined Soboroff’s criminal history of 17 convictions, including harassment, extortion, arson, assault on a police officer, trespass, shoplifting, soliciting a prostitute, making false 911 calls and making threats. One conviction for threatening to put Thorazine into the Calamus water supply was overturned on appeal, so Soboroff won’t face a second trial in the case.
He has been arrested 25 other times and has had 29 complaints from citizens made against him, Rose said.
Soboroff said his criminal behavior occurred only after he was assaulted by two police officers in 1982 and suffered a brain injury, but Cronk pointed out Soboroff pleaded guilty in 1975 to shoplifting.