Apr 9, 2011

Rabbi Watch: "Also arrested was a man charged with brokering the sale of a human kidney."


The Hoffman Wire
Dedicated to Freedom of the Press, Investigative Reporting and Revisionist History

Michael A. Hoffman II: Editor.


New Jersey Rabbi used religious charity to launder nearly $1 million 

" underground money transfer network that stretched from Brooklyn 
all the way to Israel."

"Also arrested was a man charged with brokering the sale of a human 

Rabbi Fish "...would not use the word cash, but instead referred to 
laundered money as 'gemoras,' a reference to part of the Talmud..."

Orthodox rabbi pleads guilty to using religious charities to hide $1M 
for Solomon Dwek

By Ted Sherman | The Star-Ledger (New Jersey) | April 9, 2011 

Rabbi Mordchai Fish, left, admitted Friday that he let FBI informant 
Solomon Dwek, right, use his charities to channel $900,000 in illegal 

Of all those targeted in what became the biggest FBI sting operation in 
New Jersey history, Mordchai Fish was among the most secretive.

He changed cell phones constantly. He spoke in code, using Talmudic 
references to set up meetings to exchange cash. He constantly worried 
aloud about electronic bugs and had cash couriers all over Borough Park.

On Friday, the tearful, 58-year-old Orthodox rabbi from Brooklyn pleaded 
guilty in federal court to a money laundering scheme that used religious 
charities to hide nearly $1 million in funds he thought had come out of 
a massive bank fraud and a counterfeit designer handbag operation.

Fish was one of 44 people initially charged in the widespread sting, 
which came to light in July 2009 with the arrests of three mayors, two 
legislators, five rabbis and dozens of public officials and candidates 
for office. Also arrested was a man charged with brokering the sale of a 
human kidney.

At the center of it all was failed Monmouth County developer Solomon 
Dwek, an informer who entered into a cooperation deal with federal 
prosecutors after he was arrested for trying to pass $50 million in bad 
checks at a bank drive-through window.

With the politicians, Dwek posed as a corrupt developer by the name of 
David Esenbach, who gave out FedEx envelopes stuffed with cash to anyone 
who would help expedite a series of phony real estate deals concocted by 
the FBI. More than a dozen have already pleaded guilty to corruption 

Separately, using his own identity, Dwek arranged to launder millions of 
dollars in a series of tax scams using religious charities — a scheme in 
which money was given to charitable funds and religious schools, and 
then kicked back in cash, minus a 10 percent cut.

Dwek, in setting up Fish and others, repeatedly told them that he was 
looking to pull cash out of his bankrupt real estate empire and from a 
"schnookie" bank deal gone bad. Later, he claimed he had profits he was 
trying to hide coming out of a counterfeit, high-end designer handbag 

Last week, another rabbi caught in the same sting, Saul Kassin, the 
89-year-old spiritual leader of the nation's largest Syrian Sephardic 
Jewish congregation, pleaded guilty to one count of operating an 
unlicensed money-transmitting business.

In court Friday (April 8) before U.S. District Judge Joel A. Pisano in 
Trenton, Fish, who broke down repeatedly, pleaded guilty to an 
information charging him with money laundering conspiracy.

Fish admitted that he began meeting with Dwek in early 2008, and agreed 
to a series of transactions that were funneled through several community 
charities known as "gmachs," which Fish controlled.

Prosecutors said the checks were deposited into bank accounts held in 
the names of the charities, and Fish would subsequently arrange to make 
cash available through an underground money transfer network that 
stretched from Brooklyn all the way to Israel.

According to criminal complaints filed in the case, Fish was among the 
most furtive of those caught on surveillance video. He would constantly 
change cell phones and speak in an amalgam of English, Yiddish and 
Hebrew, to set up meetings. 

The transcripts show he would not use the word cash, but instead 
referred to laundered money as "gemoras," a reference to part of the 
Talmud — the collection of Jewish law and tradition that explains the 
Five Books of Moses.

Among the transcripts included a recording of Fish and Dwek together in 
a car on their way to pick up cash in Brooklyn. As they drove, Dwek 
would mention the cross streets to which they were headed. "I'm nervous 
now," Fish was heard on the surveillance tape. "Don't even say the 
street in this car."

Dwek, who was wired for sound and video with a hidden miniature camera, 
assured Fish there was nothing to worry about. He had the car swept, he 

"Swept, shmept," replied Fish.

He told the judge Friday he engaged in approximately 15 money laundering 
transactions with Dwek, helping convert approximately $900,000 in checks 
into more than $800,000 in cash, after receiving his cut.

Fish's attorney, Michael Bachner of New York, said it was a difficult 
day for his client. "After due consideration with his family and loved 
ones, Rabbi Fish decided that it was proper and right to acknowledge his 
behavior," said Bachner. "He is looking forward to putting this matter 
behind him so that he can continue to engage himself in the work he has 
always dedicated himself to, which is the care of troubled youth in the 

Fish is scheduled to be sentenced July 28, when he faces a maximum of 20 
years in prison and a $250,000 fine, although under federal sentencing 
guidelines is likely to be exposed to anywhere between 33 months to as 
much as five years. In addition, Fish agreed to forfeit approximately 


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