Rabbi David Yosef, the son of Shas spiritual leader and former Sephardic Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, resisted an attempt by an American businessman to suck him into a money laundering operation that eventually led to the arrest of dozens of people in New York and New Jersey.
The businessman, Solomon Dwek, was himself arrested in 2006, in connection with a scheme to bilk $25 million out of the PNC bank, which has branches in New York and New Jersey. Dwek was a real estate developer, religious school principal and philanthropist from Ocean Township, New Jersey.
As part of a plea bargain arrangement with federal prosecutors, he turned state’s witness and wore a “wire” while attempting to snare others in the web of intrigue. According to a report on Sunday by News One, Dwek came to the younger Rabbi Yosef, claiming that he did not even have enough money to buy food and that the rabbi was obligated to save him by doing business with him. The transaction involved a $25,000 check, which Dwek offered to cash in exchange for a percentage as a fee.
The rabbi was careful enough to refuse and said he did not deal in such matters. Both Rabbi Ovadia Yosef and his son, Rabbi David Yosef, are deeply respected in the Sephardic Jewish communities abroad, as well as in Israel.
The attempted solicitation, which came as part of a 10-year investigation by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), was recorded – as were dozens of others. The probe ended in a massive sting operation last week by 300 agents, who arrested five rabbis and three mayors, rocking the Syrian Jewish communities in New York and New Jersey as well as residents of three major cities.