Hundreds of federal agents on both sides of the Hudson River - in Brooklyn and Jersey - raided the homes of 44 suspects targeted in the two-year probe in connection with acts of money laundering, bribery - and trafficking in black-market kidneys and fake Gucci bags.
Those nabbed include high-ranking politicians and trusted religious leaders. Federal government sources were quoted by the New York Daily News, as saying that A developer had helped them to nail down mayors, rabbis and dozens of others.
AdvertisementA dozen at a time, defendants were walked in with wrist and ankle shackles for arraignment in federal court in Newark on Thursday. Bail was set as high as three million dollars.
Aside from the wide-ranging political ramifications of the arrests in Jersey - shocking even in the ethics-challenged Garden State - the takedowns of five rabbis left Jewish communities in Deal, N.J. and Brooklyn reeling.
Most of the Jewish leaders busted were accused of laundering the snitch's dirty money through their charities, which they also used to mask ill-gotten gains from the sale of fake Gucci and Prada bags.
The most outrageous arrest was that of Levy-Izhak Rosenbaum, 58, of Brooklyn, who authorities say would buy kidneys from vulnerable people in Israel for 10,000 dollars, and then sell them for 160,000 dollars.
"It is a shonda," said one Orthodox Jewish leader, using the Yiddish word for shame.
The developer who snitched has been identified as Solomon Dwek, who was charged with defrauding a bank of millions in 2006.
Dwek apparently offered the feds to turn on rabbis - who stunningly still dealt with him even though it was well known in their community that he had been charged by the government.
Dwek told the targets he was in bankruptcy and interested in hiding his assets. He laundered three million dollars since June 2007.
Over and over, politicians and candidates solicited and accepted bribes to grease the wheels for Dwek, who claimed he needed building permits and other approvals, authorities said.
It was in the course of the money-laundering prong of the probe that the informant came across Rosenbaum, 58, who was purportedly in the real estate business but actually makes money trafficking kidneys, officials said.