Federal agents said Thursday that 44 people were arrested and charged with bribery or money laundering, based on an investigation in which an Orthodox Jewish "cooperating witness" was directed by investigators to attempt to bribe officials and get people involved in money laundering. Of those arrested, 29 were charged with bribery and 15 charged with money laundering. They include a number of public officials and rabbis from New York and New Jersey. The cooperating witness, 36-year-old Solomon Dwek, a real-estate developer, religious-school head and philanthropist from Ocean Township, who was charged with defrauding PNC bank out of $25 million in 2006. The FBI used him to make contact with the defendants.
The rabbis, whose names were not publicized when news of the arrests first broke, are Rabbi Eliahu Ben Haim of Congregation Ohel Yaacob in Deal, New Jersey; Rabbi Edmond Nahum of Deal Synagogue; Rabbi Saul Kassin of Shaare Zion Congregation Brooklyn; Rabbi Mordchai Fish of Brooklyn's Congregation Sheves Achim and his brother, Rabbi Lavel Schwartz. Levy Izhak Rosenbaum of Brooklyn, who said he had been brokering the sale of kidneys for 10 years, according to the FBI complaint, was charged separately with conspiring to broker the sale of a human kidney for a transplant. Rosenbaum allegedly charged $160,000 to the transplant recipient.