Friday, July 24, 2009

Brooklyn Rabbi Saul Kassin and 4 other Rabbis Arrested for Money Laundering

Police say a Brooklyn rabbi was part of a major international money laundering sweep which led to the arrests of dozens of New Jersey public officials Thursday, including three mayors.

Law enforcement officials say Saul Kassin was arrested and charged with money laundering after a raid.

The 87-year-old is the chief rabbi at Shaare Zion and operated several charitable tax-exempt organizations in conjunction with his synagogue.

Officials say Kassin was part of an international money laundering ring.

"I'm hoping he clears his name," said Shaare Zion Synagogue member Joe Falas "I think someone is setting him up. He doesn't seem like the type of person who would do something bad."

Kassin's arrest stemmed from an investigation into the sale of black market kidneys and fake Gucci handbags, but eventually turned into a sweeping probe of political corruption in New Jersey that ended in the arrests of 44 people.

Four other rabbis were arrested.

Another Brooklyn man, Levy Izkah Rosenbaum, is accused of conspiring to arrange the sale of an Israeli citizen's kidney for $160,000 after buying for $10,000. He then tried to sell it to a fictitious uncle of the FBI's informant.

Authorities say that informant, indicted real estate developer Solomon Dwek, then turned his attention to New Jersey politicians.

The Justice Department says Hoboken Mayor Peter Cammarano, Secaucus Mayor Dennis Elwell, Jersey City Deputy Mayor Leona Beldini, and Assemblyman Daniel Van Pelt were among those arrested.

Van Pelt is accused of accepting $10,000 from a government witness posing as a developer.

"These complaints paint a disgraceful picture of religious leaders heading money laundering crews, acting as crime bosses," said Marra. "They used purported charities, entities supposedly set up to do good works as vehicles for laundering millions of dollars in illicit funds. The rings were international in scope connected to Deal, New Jersey, Brooklyn, New York, Israel , and Switzerland."

According to the Associated Press, Governor Jon Corzine said in reaction, "The scale of corruption we're seeing as this unfolds is simply outrageous and cannot be tolerated."

The undercover investigation into the money laundering ring went on for 10 years.

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