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on Jul 23, 2009
From Link: BBC World News
A major FBI operation in New Jersey has ensnared more than 40 people - including mayors, lawmakers and rabbis - in a massive corruption scandal.
The investigation began two years ago into the sale of black-market kidneys and fake Gucci handbags, reports say.
But it soon became a sweeping probe of political corruption on a scale that has shocked many in New Jersey, a state with a rich history of graft.
Federal prosecutors said investigators at first probed a suspected money-laundering network based in New York and New Jersey with alleged links to Israel.
The network is alleged to have laundered tens of millions of dollars through Jewish charities with the help of rabbis, mostly from the insular Syrian Jewish community based in Deal, a wealthy oceanfront borough of New Jersey.
Prosecutors used an informant - a former real estate developer charged with bank fraud three years ago - to pose as a crooked businessman.
The man allegedly approached the rabbis claiming to be bankrupt and in need of hiding his assets.
He then convinced them to accept payments made out to various charities they oversaw, which they then cashed and handed back to him, keeping a portion of the proceeds as their cut.
Millions are alleged to have been laundered in this way, with much of the money coming from Israel and a Swiss banker, prosecutors say.
The New York Times says negotiations often took place in parking lots, diners and boiler rooms, with thousands in cash being stuffed into cereal boxes before being passed on.
But the investigation took on a more sinister turn when one of the men in the money-laundering network introduced the informant to a building inspector in Jersey City, who in turn referred him to a series of corrupt politicians who were known as "players".
The informant then adopted a new approach, assuming a fake identity and pretending he wanted to build real estate projects in their city or county.
He would then offer to pay $5,000 to $10,000 (£3,000 to £6,000) - either as a campaign contribution or a direct bribe - if his projects got favourable treatment.
He would sometimes allegedly pull the money out of the trunk of his car, or promise to deliver it via a middleman.
It is unclear whether the informant actually owned any buildings or if any of the developments he proposed were ever built.
Prosecutors accuse one man of dealing in human kidneys from Israeli donors for transplant for a decade.
It is alleged that "vulnerable people" would give up a kidney for $10,000 (£6,000) and these would then be sold on for $160,000 (£97,000).
FBI agents arrested 44 people in a series of morning raids, creating a dramatic scene of politicians and rabbis in traditional outfits handcuffed and being marched into the federal building in Newark, and then boarded onto a bus for the drive to the federal courthouse. Among those arrested were legislators L. Harvey Smith (D) and Daniel M. Van Pelt (R); Hoboken Mayor Peter J. Cammarano III; Secaucus Mayor Dennis Elwell; and Ridgefield Mayor Anthony Suarez, as well as the deputy mayor and council president of Jersey City. The arrested rabbis included Saul Kassin, the chief rabbi for the tight-knit Syrian Jewish community in the United States, and the chief rabbis of synagogues in Brooklyn and Deal, N.J.
A Brooklyn man, Levy-Izhak Rosenbaum, known in his circles as "the kidney salesman," was also arrested as part of the sweep and charged with enticing vulnerable people in Israel to sell one of their kidneys for $10,000, and then charging waiting transplant patients in this country up to $160,000. He admitted brokering kidney sales for a decade, federal prosecutors said in the complaint.
"It seems that everyone wanted a piece of the action," said acting U.S. Attorney Ralph J. Marra Jr. "The corruption was widespread and pervasive." He said the politicians in New Jersey "existed in an ethics-free zone."
I read that the FBI had been invstigating this since 1999. Dang, the wheels of justice move S L O W L Y ! ! !
BUSTED!!! I'm sure that all the Haredi courts in the 5 cities are ducking for cover! hahahahaha...
Streits at my house tonight...i have dozens of boxes..enough for everybody! Come one come all!!! Can we all just break bread and get along? tee hee hee, tee hee hee...
I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if the deaths in Mexico of prostitutes along the border are related to the harvesting of organs business. Many of the women have been murdered and body parts harvested.
[Post removed due to excessive and/or repetitive post by same poster]
This is some pretty crazy stuff. I wonder if we really knew the extent of all Federal and Local Government corruption, just to what extent that would be?
Boston (DbTechNo) - Officials have arrested up to 44 people in connection with an organ selling scheme based out of Israel.
People were selling their own kidneys on the black market, a scheme set up by Levy Izhak Rosenbaum who is a Rabbi.
The scheme worked as follows: the donor would travel to the US and donate his/her kidney for a flat fee of $10,000.
Surprisingly enough, all the surgical procedures were performed at US hospitals.
In total, 44 people were arrested, including 3 New Jersey Mayors, all of whom believed to be part of the black market organ selling scheme.
The bust came as the result of a 2 year investigation, beginning with alleged money laundering and ending in the discovery of the kidney selling scheme.
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