Support the Coalition with your Donation

thank you

The Coalition for Justice in Hawaiian Gardens and Jerusalem
P.O. 67903, Los Angeles CA
310 910-9153

In 1988, Irving Moskowitz, a retired MD and local hospital owner, bought the non-profit Hawaiian Gardens Bingo Club, on Carson Street, the city’s main thoroughfare. The City Council gave his family-controlled Irving I. Moskowitz Foundation a monopoly on charitable bingo, which persists to this day, even though Moskowitz never lived up to his promise to donate most of the proceeds locally. He simply recalled or ran candidates against City Council members who challenged his monopoly and continued to run the taxpayer-subsidized bingo as a private piggy bank.  

The links below point to in-depth sections that show how Moskowitz has exploited the small community of Hawaiian Gardens, plus links to a damning state legislative report on Moskowitz's gambling operations.

Non-profit profiteering in Hawaiian Gardens

  Dr. Irving Moskowitz has made much of his reputation as a philanthropist in his bid to win approval to operate his Hawaiian Gardens casino. But Moskowitz’s track record of less-than-charitable activity in Hawaiian Gardens belies his self-image of an altruistic benefactor – a careful examination of his financial records and those of his non-profit foundation show that the majority of his contributions resulted in either financial gain or increased political influence for himself.

What follows is an excerpt from a forthcoming Coalition for Justice white paper explaining how Irving Moskowitz has used his Irving I. Moskowitz Foundation and other ostensibly non-profit organizations to his own benefit in Hawaiian Gardens. We have carefully sifted through foundation IRS forms, court and property records, lease agreements, the California state business registry as well as conducting numerous interviews with community leaders in our effort to follow a money trail proving Moskowitz has engaged in non-profit profiteering in Hawaiian Gardens.

Click here to read more.

Update: Since posting this report on our website, more information has come to light that strongly suggests that Moskowitz's non-profit Tri-City Regional Medical Center is in violation of Internal Revenue Service rules qualifying health care providers for tax-exemption. (Click here to read more…)

Moskowitz's "charity" bingo

Over the years, the bingo club has netted tens of millions of dollars and Moskowitz has funneled the bulk of the money to extremist Israeli causes
[see Blocking Mideast Peace]
By contrast, Moskowitz's use of bingo funds in Hawaiian Gardens has been strategically stingy. Moskowitz gave multi-million dollar donations from the bingo to organizations in Hawaiian Gardens - they just happened to go mainly to the hospital Moskowitz owns and the food bank he and his family control. Moskowitz's bingo operation has in the past supported the Hawaiian Gardens government. But that was from 1995 to 1997, while he campaigned for approval of his casino. In 1999 his total giving to the city was $35,000!

   The bingo operation takes advantage of a state law that requires that bingo parlors must be charities, staffed by volunteers. The Moskowitz Foundation staffs the bingo with immigrant "volunteers" who work set schedules only for tips – no wages or benefits. MALDEF, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, is suing the Moskowitz bingo on behalf of 24 unpaid bingo workers.
[see MALDEF Suit]

Irving Moskowitz used his bingo to hijack Hawaiian Gardens' political life and its
development funds

If he gets a long-pending casino license, he will continue to snatch this community’s future.

   In the mid-1990s, Irving Moskowitz used his "charity" bingo to gain political control of Hawaiian Garden, a predominantly Latino, low-income city. He then put the City millions of dollars in debt to build his casino.

   California's gambling authority is in the process of deciding whether to license Moskowitz's casino. We believe Moskowitz should not get the license, because it would mean the government endorses his abuse of Hawaiian Gardens. Based on the business practices Moskowitz’s has employed in running his bingo parlors, we are certain that if he gets a license, Moskowitz will not pay the casino taxes to Hawaiian Gardens, and instead will leave residents to pay off the casino’s debts! Click here to see how.
[see DDA]

Moskowitz's Hawaiian Gardens Casino

In 1993, Moskowitz pushed through a sweetheart deal with the Hawaiian Gardens Community Redevelopment Agency to develop what, at the time, everyone thought would be a large retail complex. But by 1995, Moskowitz was backing a ballot measure on a casino—spending over $500,000, almost $200 a vote, much of it to street gang "campaign workers."
Hawaiian Gardens took a financial beating from the development of the casino. The 1993 deal stuck left the city's Redevelopment Agency paying many costs commonly born by developers. The financial burden so drained the Agency that its auditors warned it might go belly up. The City Council bailed out the Agency with more than $3 million. Then, with the casino still unfinished, the city borrowed $3.5 million from Dr. Moskowitz to finance additional Agency spending on the casino. The city then floated bonds to pay the debts that Moskowitz forced it to incur – including a million-dollar bill from his lawyers. The bonds are secured by the very casino revenue taxes which once promised prosperity – and which
[see DDA] we believe Moskowitz will probably stop paying if the state gives him a gambling license.
Immediately following on this page are news stories. Use the links on the left to learn more on other pages in this section...

The Bingo Connection
by Christopher D. Cook
01 September 2000
Mother Jones

“Like all bingos in the state, the Hawaiian Gardens club is run by a not-for-profit foundation. But while most bingos raise less than $100,000 a year for local churches and schools, Hawaiian Gardens is neither small nor local. The operator of the club has made international headlines for inflaming tensions in the Middle East.” Meanwhile, residents are struggling to make ends meet serve as “volunteers” in the bingo club, working solely for tips. This article looks at the Hawaiian Gardens bingo club and casino and controversial business dealings of Irving Moskowitz. It also gives background on Moskowitz's life and a brief history of the city of Hawaiian Gardens.

The Last Good Cop
by Ron Russell
18 February 1999
New Times Los Angeles

Walter McKinney, the former Hawaiian Gardens police chief, lost his job in a tale of justice run amok involving the local Mexican Mafia prison gang. The good cop lost his job in a combustible combination of local politics, Sheriff's Department resentment, an exceedingly aggressive district attorney's office, and a judicial system that, in the end, chose to punish an exemplary cop's lapse of judgment with its eyes closed.

California Bingo Hall Plays on World Stage
by Charlie LeDuff
25 November 2002
The New York Times

“This is a rundown town in the rundown eastern corner of Los Angeles County. Besides the palm trees, little here suggests Hawaii,” begins the report, which focuses on the massive, purportedly charitable Hawaiian Gardens bingo operated by "the reclusive and wealthy doctor, Irving I. Moskowitz," and the poor, predominantly Latino city, where Moskowitz also has a for-profit casino.

Controversy in a Small, Casino Town
by Douglas P. Shuit
25 March 1999
Los Angeles Times

"The physician considered by some to be the city of Hawaiian Gardens' absentee landlord is stirring the pot again.

This time, Irving Moskowitz -- who controls legal gambling in Hawaiian Gardens and keeps the city alive by funneling millions of dollars in gifts through a charitable foundation -- is said to be the force behind the abrupt resignation of City Atty. Julia Sylva. And the city attorney is not going quietly."

Hawaiian Gardens Card Club Faces Legal Wrangle
by Joe Segura
24 March 1999
Long Beach Press-Telegram

This story reports that Hawaiian Gardens' assembly member called for a review of Hawaiian Gardens card-club development plan. It also reports that city attorney Julia Sylva, a Moskowitz opponent, resigned after a new solidly pro-Moskowitz government took office.

"HAWAIIAN GARDENS - Assemblyman Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, said Wednesday he wants to review Hawaiian Gardens' card-club development plan to determine whether state law restrictions on public-fund use is being ignored. The city's Redevelopment Agency has been involved with Irving Moskowitz for the past few years in an effort to build a multimillion dollar card club - and the city's tab has reached about the halfway mark of a potential $20 million bill, according to former City Attorney Julia Sylva." Meanwhile, as a new, solidly pro-Moskowitz government took office, Julia Sylva, the Hawaiian Gardens city attorney long at odds with Moskowitz' attorney and local potentate Beryl Weiner, resigned. [The coalition heard residents say that, if Sylva hadn't resigned before the first meeting of the new City Council, she'd have been fired during that meeting.] "

  View all news reports
© 2003 the Coalition for Justice in Hawaiian Gardens and Jerusalem