Court Papers: The Language Of Money Laundering
By Robert Smith
The characters in the Sopranos aren't the only criminals who love their food and colorful slang. Court documents in last month's big New Jersey corruption bust reveal that the rabbis charged with money laundering have their own dramatic flair. The court papers say an informant was taping all his meetings, and the results read like a Kosher version of Goodfellas.
Bank fraud is repeatedly referred to as a "schnookie" in the charges, which makes it adorable. And since five of the accused are rabbis, they know their way around the ancient codes. "Gemara" may be the second part of the Talmud, but the court papers say that for these guys it also meant a thousand dollars. "I'm bringing 55 gemaras," the informant says, meaning $55,000. The accused would allegedly set up times to meet by asking when they wanted to "learn together."
But apparently the rabbis were more hungry for food than for knowledge. Prosecutors say these portly gentlemen would meet in chocolate shops, bakeries, grocery stores. According to official charges, when they went for the laundered money, they would say they were going to "pick up the potatoes." The cash came bundled in cereal boxes, the charges say: $97,000 in Apple Jacks, $118,000 in Cinnabon Crunch.
NPR alerts us to the slang of NJ Rabbis. "Let's learn together, you bring the gemaras," doesn't mean what we thought it meant.