Following the N.J. corruption money trail: Money laundering splintered into political probe
by The Star-Ledger Continuous News Desk
Thursday July 23, 2009, 5:21 PM
Levi Izhak Rosenbaum, who is accused of attempting to broker a $160,000 deal for a kidney donation, is taken into the back of the federal courthouse in Newark on corruption charges.
NEWARK -- What began as a federal investigation into money laundering by Syrian Jewish community leaders in New Jersey and New York two years ago spawned into a broad web of political corruption that enveloped two N.J. assemblymen and three mayors.
At the heart of the probe was the money. The politicians are accused of taking bribes. And five rabbis are accused of laundering it through their non-profit religious institutions, while keeping a cut for themselves. One Brooklyn man, who was among the 44 charged today, was even accused of trying to broker a $160,000 deal for a kidney transplant.
Full Star-Ledger coverage of the New Jersey corruption arrests
In the last two years alone, a confidential witness --identified by sources close to the investigation as millionaire rea... -- laundered $3 million through the rabbis, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office, which declined to name the witness.
"He openly discussed with targets that he was in bankruptcy and was attempting to conceal cash and assets, and told them he wanted to launder criminal proceeds in increments ranging from tens of thousands of dollars to $150,000 or more at a time, often at the rate of several transactions per week," the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a statement announcing the
In addition to the 44 arrests, federal authorities today seized 28 bank accounts in the names of those charged with laundering money.
The key players, according to federal authorities, include Eliahu Ben Haim, of Long Branch, the rabbi for Congregation Ohel Yaacob in Deal. He is accused of taking payments as large as $160,000 made payable to his charitable, tax-exempt organization and laundering it for a 10 percent fee, authorities said.
Saul Kassin, a prominent rabbi in Brooklyn, and Edmund Nahum, the leader of a synagogue in Deal, orchestrated similar money laundering rings, according to the federal complaints. Brooklyn rabbis Mordchai Fish and his brother Lavel Schwartz were also charged with laundering money.
The money was laundered, in part, through cash houses in Brooklyn, as well as an Israeli named Levi Deutsch, who traveled frequently between New York and Israel. According to the complaint, he told the cooperating witness that his source of cash was the diamond business, and a Swiss banker.
The connection to New Jersey politics, however, came long after the initial investigation began. In June 2007, the expanding money laundering probe led the cooperating witness to be introduced to Jersey City building inspector John Guarini, who is charged with taking $40,000 in bribes from the witness, according to the federal charges.
That launched a wave of meetings where the cooperating witness bribed other officials with envelopes stuffed with cash during dinners in restaurants from Atlantic City to Staten Island, according to the complaints.
The bribes, according to federal authorities, to the key politicians included:
-- Hoboken Mayor Peter Cammarano $25,000
-- Assemblyman L. Harvey Smith (D-Hudson) $15,000
-- Jersey City Deputy Mayor Leona Beldini $20,000 (in campaign contributions)
-- Secaucus Mayor Dennis Elwell $10,000
-- Ridgefield Mayor Anthony Suarez $10,000
-- Assemblyman Daniel Van Pelt (R-Ocean) $10,000
Hoboken Mayor Peter Cammarano III, Secaucus Mayor Dennis Elwell led in handcuffs into FBI building
Not a good day for the NJ Democrats. BWAAHAAAHAAHAA
I can't believe this. Years of reading the nj.com comments and I was brainwashed into believing Newark was the problem, and that without its inner cities NJ would be a utopia of morals and law abiding citizens.
Now, I come to find out there is crime and criminals in the suburbs! Among white people! And the wealthy! I am just shocked. SHOCKED.
There's a lot of others who arn't going to sleep well tonight knowing they may get that 5 am wake up call from the feds tomorrow morning.
This has probably been going on for many many years, yet it took the canary Solomon Dwek to bring it to the attention of the FBI.
Why wasnt this investigated sooner? too many powerful people behind it? nobody wanted to take on the Jewish Communities in Deal & Brooklyn and Israel for that matter?
The joke is on all hard working new jersey residents.
Corzine - you are toast come November. This seals your fate.
newarkpeaches, I concur: BWAAHAAAHAAA!
It sounds like the democratic party went on a bus ride today!
It sounds like the democratic party went on a bus ride today!
Corzine's looks like BURNT TOAST now.
Great news for Christie campaign.
Democrats much more likely to do a SWITCHEROO now --- Corzine drops out of the race, and is replaced by some other Dem (just like happened with Bob Torricelli).
The question is: WHO will replace candidate Corzine ???
Well, we see that in NJ, whites, blacks, Latinos, Christians and Jews CAN cooperate in comething after all.
welcome to the DEMOCRATIC PARTY. this is what Democrats do, while the media worries about Palin's wardrobe.
you can bet the ranch that all these scumbags are Obama supporters.
"There's No Business Like Shmutsik Business"
The FBI has made a handcuff shnitke out of you.
Way, way past time to CLEAN HOUSE!
It's funny how we've known this, but just let it keep rolling along.
Corruption is a given in NJ politics. A system of pay to play, favor banks and appointing friends/relatives to no show jobs with long term state funded benefits. The level of distrust of politicians is greater than I've ever seen, and I'm no youngster. The head of the FBI white collar crime unit calls us "the worst" state for corruption. Great! We're #1!!! We're #1!!!
Wait...only $130,000 in bribes to all those pols?? That would hardly pay for one of those flashy cars parked in their Deal driveways. Must only be the wholesale price. As to the Cooperating Witness, what about his crimes and those of all the developers who have run rampant through Hudson County. Let's see the probe widen to take in the crooked builders, bankers, and NJ agencies that
looked the other way or were just too incompetent to stop this rampant raping
of our real estate and tax dollars.
Where's Milgram during all of this? 1000 attorneys at her disposal and all she can do is harrass Ticketmaster and Juicy campus? Well I feel safer now. Can't wait until the Dem Fed prosecutor takes over the helm. Will it then be business as usual?
mrrealis, those scam bags rabbis are actually Syrian descends. What it has to to with Israel.
I would send them all with all in Guantanamo and, BTW I'm Jewish.
tomorrow will be corzine/codey/lautenberg/buono/menendez/booker/etc.
Everything we read here, even the posts, are 'old hat'. So, until we get off our a**es and vote absolutely every slimeball out of Trenton (and county...and muni) there's no sense saying any more!
It's not a new thought...actions speak louder than words. GET READY FOR ELECTION DAY!
"The connection to New Jersey politics, however, came long after the initial investigation began."
In other words no one in NJ was doing a thing about the corruption. Christie and Milgram did absolutely nothing. I am tired of people portraying this as great for Christie. The truth is he was willing to let things continue because he just intended to put his people in bribe taking positions. Both Christie and Milgram continuously ignored complaints in NJ. Neither deserves credit for the
work done by the Feds.
I am more then happy that DEMOCRAPS GOT BUSTED!!!!! All of these crooks should start to look at Ferriero as the culprit who told!!!!!
OMG..NOT ONE REPUBLICAN...OH WAIT YEAH...NEVER MIND BOTH ARE CORRUPT...LMAO
Since Peter Cammarano was sworn in, I became a curious reader of the bloggers' postings on this website by all parties. Rarely was there an exchange about this recent Mayoral election that lacked provocative and instigating commentary that often veered away from the original subject matter and context of the posted article. The central themes of the post exchanges seemed to
always lead back to adversarial and confrontational viewpoints rooted in 'us'
versus 'them'. (Note these references are intentionally vague so that you may
choose to consider yourself a member of either group). What I always found
fascinating was how some of the viewpoints expressed were based in such a
discernable sense of entitlement. While it is obvious to see how those who
opposed the Cammarano contingency have these recent events to demonstrate the
validity of their prior criticisms, what is most fascinating is the deafening
silence from those who were the most ardent advocates of not only Cammarano but
the historical operation of govenrment that he apparently represented.
What now can be said of the man, the officials, the way that things have been
for so long?
Could a new beginning actually be happening?
Time will tell and I believe there are many individuals who are questioning themselves
and their actions and whether or not they have reason to be concerned for their
own expectations of priviledge.
baligirl Have you even read the newspaper articles? The investigation has been in place for ten years. Christie at least has a record of 134-0 in idicting and jailing corrupt officials. He has just recently left the office as the Fed prosecutor. That connection to NJ politics came during Christies tenure. It is evident where your sympathy lies but going after campus gossip
sites and mislabled footpads and Ticketmaster (which sort of petered out once
it was discovered that Corzines friends from the NJSEA may have received
favorable treatment) is not exactly where the 'meat' lies. Where has Milgram
been on Encap or Xanadu or gang activity in the prisons? When will Neil Cohen
actually be processed? Maybe he's ready to give up the rest of the legislature.
What about pushing Codey on the Christmas tree slush fund.
You're entitled to your opinions but your way off base on this one and led by
your political ideology
Here's Corzine's response after a member of his cabinet, Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Joe Doria, resigned:
"My administration will not tolerate, nor has it tolerated, the kind of public corruption
unveiled today," said Corzine, who called the charges against 44 people announced today "outrageous."
Corzine is essentially saying, "now that other people have found out about the corruption in my administration, I'm outraged!"
Hmmmm.....what about $100+ million of "special municipal aid" that was doled out through Doria and the DCA to a bunch of these towns, without any explanation of how they were chosen to receive this "aid."
Does this maybe have anything to do with the so-called MAC accounts, essentially legislator controlled slush funds, that the Corzine Administration setup with Codey, Bryant, et al.?
Corzine can save his fake outrage. At the worst, he has tolerated corruption withing his administration. At best, he has blocked ethics reform that would have prevented some of this,
Kick this bum out!
How many Republicans? I've only heard of 1. That's 1 out of 44. You Democrats are incredibly corrupt, dirty and stupid. Keep drinking that kool-aid fool and don't forget...........vote Column A!
It is funny how it took a federal investigation to find this stuff out. Where are all the people in NJ that are responsible for finding this stuff? They keep looking under the wrong rock?
I agree with one of the above posts....get out and vote all the slimeballs out....Codey first! He can be proud of the mess he leaves NJ with.
Political corruption in Hudson County? I for one an shocked.
Wow. people getting arrested for being jewish and donting money? Seems like everything is illegal these days.
How about letting those go who did 'Absolutely Nuffin"?
madjersyan "For those Obama bashers it was a decnt mix of dems and gop."
Actually, no it wasn't. Of the 20 elected officials who were arrested, 19 were Democrats, and just one was Republican.
To be sure, both elected Democrats and Republicans alike can be corrupted. In this case, however, it's almost 100% Democrats.
There's a reason that the FBI raided the home and Trenton office of Corzine's DCA Commissioner today. Billions of dollars of Obama's stimulus money has flowed throught he DCA. Hundreds of millions of Corzine's "special municipal aid" have flowed through the DCA.
The DCA is a department in Corzine's executive branch that he directly controls. This corruption directly touches Jon Corzine.
To bad Corzine was not on that bus.....and he should be!!
Let me reiterate.....he's more crooked than all those who were arrested.
Onr thing is for certain. There are too many governments in New Jersey. The more people that have access to elected office, the more people that will steal. I thought that Corzine had a good chance at reelection. Not now. Also, Christies choice for the LT GOV position is outstanding. In listening to her, she's a keeper.
Who is running Hudson county now? I guess these pols can run it from the clink?
Here here - well said. Bank Hapoalim and Bank Leumi Isreal have been busted numerous times for abetting money laundering internationally through the Holy Land.
These rabbis think they are above the law.
It was these same type of deluded Jewish whacko fundamentalists who instigated the assassination of Yitzchak Rabin in the name of G-d.
G-d protect us from these "true believers."
Urban areas are weel represented in this too, unless you don't consider Hudson County to be urban.
Still Menendez, like always.
This is sooooo Chritie-
only go after the little fish- ignore all the big ones-
then make yourself look like the crusader
we see through you
New Jersey & Hudson County politics at its best! They make the late Mayor Hague look like (while he was not one) and amatuer.
This is just the tip of the iceburg, every little town, has been infiltrated and run by the same money making games. Until the laws of this State tighten up and honest Government demands transparency we will not see a change, this is how Government is run. The elected officals are in bed with Unions and Developers, appoint their people into office to make sure everything goes their
way, the public be damed. They have the deciding vote on any issue, you don't
like it you have to spend a furtune and litigat them, they know you can't
afford their endless public funds to fight their case.
Nov. just vote them all out!
Looks like to Feds finally took a page from the Frank Pentangeli book on how to deal with Hyman Roth and his messenger boys. "Lets hit em all while we got the muscle" The Feds need to go old school once in a while and just grab everybody to keep these mutts in check
Obama and VP Horseteeth must be kicking themselves for pitching the NJ Democratic Party. Too bad the sheet didn't hit the fan while they were here. To those Democrat apologists; Most caught up in this sweep are part of your wonderful party. Same goes for the 131 convicted pol's to date. Face the facts don't make them up.
Makes you wonder what back door deals were made for the Rowan University and Cooper Hospital merger. More last minute deals, more spending, more tax dollars, and yes, more democrats even in South Jersey.
Totally disgusted. That's all I got to say.
I just love this part from another article about Jersey City:
Gerald McCann, the former mayor who himself was convicted on federal corruption charges in 1992, said he expects the case to snowball as those arrested seek to lessen the charges against them.
"One guy is going to rat out another guy who is going to rat out another guy," McCann said. "If they arrested 40 today, there will be 140 before the year is over."
Tough week for the Democrats. First the debacle that is healthcare reform is starting to take form as the 2nd major boondoggle of the year (that nonsense pork-ulus package was the first), then Obama looks like a blithering idiot on TV last night then this. Wonder when Obama is going to coming back to this state and preach to us again.
Still saying Christie won't be much better than Corzine, but he will be better.
Barack Obama = Jimmy Carter
Clueless, Unprepared, Unqualified.
How fitting that this happened on the eve of Wayne Bryant's sentencing date :}
news flash...republicans were also rounded up...OMG...rich taking even more money...and they say they will lower are taxes....YEAH OK, start be sending someon to my home to re-evaluate it and lower my taxes accordingly....the next governor will be catering to the rich...and whom may that be????.
Cooper Hospital reminds me of Assemblyman Herb Conoway and Senator Vitale, Big Pharma Recipients,.. tens of thousands of dollars. The Feds should look into the massive prescription drugging of the 39,000 children in NJ's Foster Care Medicaid Program. NJ taxpayers payed more than 76 million dollars for adult antipsychotis given to infants and toddlers as young as six months of
age. These Antipsychotics are not FDA approved for this age group, it is
clearly medicaid fraud, and Ann Milgram has ignored our most vulnerable
children as they are drugged into oblivian, where is the justice?
Joey: the run on sentences.... Jeez
Christie is a shark. How incredible that a week after the long-legged Mack Daddy was in New Jersey this legislative blow-up occurs.
It could have only been better if it happened when Obamalammadingdong was in town.
Expect more arrests until Papa Smurf is on his knees.
I think they need to take a look at the NJ Dept of Labor and the way training and etc is handed out, who is getting it, and who is getting turned down, as well as the people in the employment unemployment offices that are supposed to help people get jobs. What exactly do they do everyday???
The whole system needs to be looked at. The roads are a mess. where is the tax
Hay NJO and FBI and NJ Gov.
This guy knows sone thing about corruption "madjerseyan"!
More bad guys are going down!
Wow, snow flakes are dropping like flies. LMAO. Let em rot. I could be wrong they are probably innocent because they are white. LMAO