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Man Sentenced to 3-6 Years for Stealing Chabad Torah

Members and friends of the Chabad House rejoice over the Torah’s return last February.

Christopher Colvill, 41, of Liberty, New York was sentenced today to three to six years in prison for his role in stealing and possessing a $35,000 Torah scroll from the Landfield Avenue Synagogue in Monticello last December in order to collect the $6,000 reward money. Colvill was also fined $5,000.

The Times-Herald-Record says that Judge Mike McGuire told Colvill he was “insensitive” for stealing the scroll, and that he does not believe Colvill really understands the ramifications of his actions.

Judge McGuire said, “You merely reduced it [the scroll] to a chattel.” He referred to the Torah as “the heart and soul” of the synagogue, the congregants, and the spiritual core of the synagogue. “Your spiritually is governed by a dollar sign, evidently,” the Judge added. In response, Colvill said, “I understand the spiritual and the emotional implications and I am deeply sorry.”

Colvill was working as a laborer doing odd jobs for the synagogue. He is a registered abuser owing to his 1999 first-degree attempted sodomy conviction involving a 4-year-old girl. His rap sheet also includes a 2006 felony attempted assault conviction in Delaware County. In May, Colvill pleaded guilty to felony criminal position of stolen property for burglarizing the synagogue.

In addition to the Torah theft, Colvill also stole an estimated $200 in charity funds. After a multi-agency police search, the Torah was recovered unharmed on January 24 at Colvill’s residence.

Members of the synagogue did not attend Colvill’s sentencing.


  • 1. Dovid Lern wrote:

    3 to 6 years is quite harsh!!! I’m sure one year or less with probation of 1 year also would have done the trick. Oh well… leave it to the judge… like if Rubashkin was held in esteem as the “Crown Of Charity” in America, why does he deserve 27 yrs in jail. Mixed up I say, mixed up.

  • 2. Srulik from Troy wrote:

    Why does the headline say “Chabad Torah”? Wouldn’t “torah” suffice? Does the branding of Chabad know no end? What if it was a Satmar torah? A reform synagogue torah? This constant refrain of “us” and “them” is maddening. The Shoah forced Jews to coexist by communal suffering – rich and poor, frum and secular. The State of Israel helped Jews coalesce from diverse lands and culture. You are all propagating petty differences. Shame!


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