Rabbis charged in New Jersey fraud swoop
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The New Jersey courthouse
Five rabbis are among those arrested for their alleged involvement in a huge money-laundering scheme, including the trafficking of human body parts, as a result of a 10-year investigation by the FBI in New Jersey.
FBI officials said they had arrested 44 people including two mayors, major political figures and rabbis, part of the Syrian-Jewish community who are said to have laundered the money through their personal charities.
The rabbis who have been charged include Saul Kassin, Grand Rabbi of the US Syrian-Jewish community.
He allegedly helped launder about $3 million from fake Gucci and Prada handbags.
One of the other accused men, Levy Izhak Rosenbaum, was charged with conspiring to traffic human organs after officials said he had offered a witness’s relative a $160,000 kidney which he himself had acquired for $10,000.
Officers raided synagogues, government offices and a Jewish school when making their swoop.
Weysan Dun, a New Jersey FBI agent commented: "The list of names and titles of those arrested today sounds like a roster for a community leaders meeting."
Just one FBI witness was the key player in the sting which led to the 44 arrests.
The witness, who also had a history of fraud offences, is a member of the Syrian-Jewish community, and won the trust of the suspected gang because of his previous dealings.
The group is said by the FBI to have sent laundered money as far as Israel and Switzerland.
Politicians and officials implicated in the arrests are said to have taken more than $650,000 in bribes to the accused politicians.