UPDATED: Syrian Jewish Insider: “Not Surprised” by Arrest of Prominent Rabbis in Breaking FBI Investigation
by NY Jewish Week
Several leading Brooklyn and New Jersey rabbis were among at least 40 people arrested on Thursday in a sweeping series of FBI raids targeting what authorities say is an international money-laundering conspiracy.
The unfolding drama is centered in Deal, N.J., a shore getaway for members of the Brooklyn Syrian Jewish community.
Among the 44 people taken into custody after a two-year FBI and IRS probe were a state assemblyman and the mayors of Hoboken and Secaucus, according to early reports.
The New Jersey Star-Ledger also reported that Levy Izhak Rosenbaum of Brooklyn was charged with "conspiring to broker the sale of a human kidney for a transplant." According to the paper, Rosenbaum said had been “brokering” deals between patients here and in Israel.
Also charged, according to federal authorities:
Rabbi Eliahu Ben Haim of Congregation Ohel Yaacob in Deal, Rabbi Saul Kassin,the chief rabbi of the Syrian Jewish community in Brooklyn, and Rabbi Edmund Nahum, another Deal rabbi. All three were charged with money laundering
Sam Antar, the former CFO of the Crazy Eddy TV and appliance empire who went to jail in that fraud case, now holds seminars for federal agencies – including the IRS – on the ins and outs of white-collar crime.
Antar told The Jewish Week that “Most people in this community are law-abiding hard-working Americans and the alleged actions of a few people are no reflection on the entire community. But I'm not surprised when I see this kind of thing happen.”
Small, tight-knit communities such as the Syrian Jewish enclave in New Jersey and Brooklyn are are particularly prone to white-collar crime, he said.
“It happens all the time in all kinds of closed, insular communities, and these crimes are the toughest to crack,” he said. “The people are bound not just by economic incentives, but cultural, religious, ethnic and family ties. They tend to be highly coordinated, and they can take years to investigate.”
Antar predicted that when the dust settles “hundreds” of people could be implicated.