A Jewish resident of Brooklyn became the first person in the United States to be convicted of organ trafficking on Thursday, the New York Daily News reported.
Levy Izhak Rosenbaum, 60, pleaded guilty to selling black-market kidneys at a huge markup, the report said.
Rosenbaum, who admitted to brokering just three transplants, boasted on tape that he actually handled “quite a lot” during the decade-long scheme. His lawyers portrayed him as an altruistic middleman who helped save lives.
Prosecutors, however, charged that Rosenbaum was a profiteer who paid vulnerable Israelis as little as $10,000 to give up a kidney and charged desperate Americans $120,000 and up for the organs.
New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman told the New York Daily News, “A black market in human organs is not only a grave threat to public health, it reserves lifesaving treatment for those who can best afford it at the expense of those who cannot. We will not tolerate such an affront to human dignity.”
Rosenbaum admitted in court he created cover stories for each case, inventing fictitious relationships between donors and recipients so doctors wouldn’t know a kidney was being sold.
His lawyers said that the surgeries took place in “prestigious American hospitals and were performed by experienced and expert” surgeons, adding, “The transplants were successful and the donors and recipients are now leading full and healthy lives.”
The lawyers claimed the money Rosenbaum got went to pay expenses and that the recipients would have died if they didn’t get the illegal kidneys.
Rosenbaum, who will be sentenced on February 2, faces up to 20 years in prison. He also agreed to forfeit $420,000 he got in connection with the three transplants.
He was arrested two years ago during a massive probe of New Jersey corruption that took down politicians and rabbis. An FBI informant told Rosenbaum he was a businessman looking for a new kidney for a sick uncle, and Rosenbaum fell for it.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)