7/23/09

FBI Raids Deal Synagogue and Yeshiva and Arrests Syrian Jews and Rabbi Saul Kassin for Money Laundering


There is a special place in hell for crooks who use public elected offices, synagogues and yeshivas to carry out their racketeering.

The shocking coverage at nj.com includes photographs of the FBI taking evidence out of the Deal Yeshiva and of people screaming at photographers outside "Rabbi Jacob Kassin's house" in Deal NJ.

According to records, Rabbi Jacob Kassin died in 1994, so we don't know why this house is identified that way - though the picture above is of a guy in a nice golf shirt identified as one, "Jakie Kassin, son of the current SY chief rabbi, by the pool at his home in Deal, N.J." from the Times profile in 2007 by Zev Chafets of the SY community.

Updates: The Times reports these details:
Weysan Dun, the special agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Newark office, said the rabbis arrested — including the grand rabbi of the Syrian Jewish community in the United States, Saul Kassin of Brooklyn — were part of a vast money-laundering conspiracy with tentacles in Israel and Switzerland. Another person, Levy-Izhak Rosenbaum of Brooklyn, was accused of enticing vulnerable people to give up a kidney for $10,000 and then selling the organ for $160,000...

The rabbis arrested were from enclaves of Syrian Jews in Brooklyn and in Deal and Elberon, communities along the Jersey Shore in Monmouth County.
The WSJ reports more about the informant and the rabbis:
The key to the investigation was an Orthodox Jewish real-estate developer, according to a person familiar with the matter. Solomon Dwek was arrested on bank-fraud charges in 2006 and was forced to seek bankruptcy protection for himself and his companies, which owned about 300 residential and commercial properties. Mr. Dwek, 36 years old, a religious-school head and philanthropist from Ocean Township, was charged with defrauding PNC Bank out of $25 million. Mr. Dwek remained free on a $10 million bond. A lawyer for Mr. Dwek couldn't be reached for comment.

To ensnare most of the defendants, the Federal Bureau of Investigation used Mr. Dwek to attempt to bribe numerous public officials in New Jersey, including Hoboken and Jersey City, according to a person familiar with the matter. The probe roped in several other real-estate developers who also wanted to bribe officials. The criminal complaints unsealed Thursday referenced an unnamed "cooperating witness" who represented himself as a real-estate developer seeking to pay bribes. A person familiar with the matter said Mr. Dwek is the witness.

"The politicians willingly put themselves up for sale," Mr. Marra said in an afternoon news conference. "They existed in an ethics-free zone."

Mr. Cammarano, who became Hoboken mayor on July 1, allegedly agreed to take $10,000 in bribes from the cooperating witness in exchange for supporting the developer's future plans in Hoboken. The alleged bribes occurred during Mr. Cammarano's mayoral campaign earlier this year, according to the FBI's complaint, which also charged an associate of Mr. Cammarano, who allegedly served as a middleman and took cash for him.

Mr. Dwek was also the key to the money-laundering probe, according to the person familiar with the matter. Under the FBI's direction, Mr. Dwek represented himself as someone who engaged in illegal businesses and schemes including bank fraud, trafficking in counterfeit goods and concealing assets and monies in connection with bankruptcy proceedings.

Among the charged rabbis for money laundering and other fraudulent acts are Edmond Nahum, the principal rabbi of Deal Synagogue in the shore community of Deal, in Monmouth County; Eliahu Ben Haim, principal rabbi of Congregation Ohel Yaacob, also in Deal; Saul Kassin, a rabbi Shaare Zion Congregation in the New York borough of Brooklyn; Mordchai Fish, a rabbi at a Brooklyn synagogue, Congregation Sheves Achim; and his brother, Lavel Schwartz, also a rabbi.
The Star Ledger site provides numerous photos of the arrested politicians and the list of those arrested and this story:
N.J. officials, N.Y. rabbis caught in federal money laundering, corruption sweep

NEWARK -- A New Jersey assemblyman and the mayors of Hoboken and Secaucus were among public officials arrested this morning by FBI agents in an international money laundering and corruption probe that includes rabbis in the Syrian Jewish communities of Deal and Brooklyn.

Assemblyman Daniel Van Pelt (R-Ocean), Hoboken Mayor Peter Cammarano, Secaucus Mayor Dennis Elwell and Jersey City Council President Mariano Vega are among those already brought to the FBI building in Newark. Jersey City Deputy Mayor Leona Beldini has also been arrested.

Mayor Peter Cammarano is one of many people brought to FBI Headquarters in Newark after an being taken into custody early this morning.

A total of 30 people have been taken into custody, officials said.

The arrests are the result of a two-year FBI and IRS probe that began with an investigation of money transfers by members of the Syrian enclaves in Deal and Brooklyn. Those arrested this morning include key religious leaders in the tight-knit, wealthy communities.

The federal investigation then expanded into a public corruption probe.

No indictments have been released, though court appearances are expected later today in U.S. District Court in Newark. Nearly 20 people have already been led into the FBI building in Newark as the sweep continues to unfold in two states.

Agents also raided religious institutions to make arrests and collect information.

The Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office and the IRS took out at least three boxes from the Deal Yeshiva, as students were arriving at school. The Deal Yeshiva, on the corner of Brighton and Norwood avenues, is a prestigious religious school in town.

Authorities also searched the Ohel Yaacob synagogue on Ocean Avenue in Deal and removed several boxes.

Assemblyman Van Pelt, 44, is also the mayor of Ocean Township, a post he has held since 1988. He holds degrees from The College of New Jersey (Criminal Justice) and Regent University (Public Policy and Government).

Cammarano, 32, a Democrat, was elected mayor of Hoboken in June. He was elected Hoboken City Councilman-at-Large in 2005. According to his campaign website, Cammarano is an attorney at the law firm of Genova, Burns, & Vernoia, which has offices in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.

Cammarano previously worked as a law clerk for Superior Court Judge Kevin Callahan in Jersey City. He is a member of the New Jersey State Bar Association and the Association of the Federal Bar of the State of New Jersey, as well as the bar associations for Hudson, Bergen and Essex Counties. He has also worked as an adjunct professor at Montclair State University.

Elwell, 64, has served for more than two decades as mayor and a member of the town council. Elwell and his council slate recently won victory in their contested Democratic June primary contests.

Elwell is the president of a family-owned trucking company. He is a former Secaucus Board of Education member and a decorated Vietnam combat veteran.

1 comment:

NYCdad said...

bad Deal for the Syrian Jews. as a sephardic Jew from Salonika I could say I am appalled but I'm too shocked to say anything right now except...perhaps HBO will be putting on the Syrianos real soon.