Dwek to take stand today
Admitted embezzler star witness in corruption trial
BY JEAN MIKLE • Asbury Park Pess
NEWARK — Solomon Dwek, the failed real estate mogul whom the FBI said helped ensnare 44 rabbis, politicians and public officials in a sweeping anti-corruption raid last year, is expected to take the witness stand for the first time today.
Dwek is the U.S. Attorney's star witness in its criminal case against Leona Beldini, the former deputy mayor of Jersey City. The federal trial is being held in U.S. District Court.
Beldini, 74, was charged with extortion and accepting bribes while serving as deputy mayor. She was one of the 44 arrested in July 2009 following a three-year federal investigation into public corruption, money laundering and human organ trafficking.
Jurors also are expected to watch videotapes secretly recorded by Dwek that prosecutors say show him meeting with Beldini and other officials.
Others arrested included two state assemblymen, three mayors and five prominent rabbis from the Syrian Jewish community in Brooklyn and Deal. Ten defendants have already pleaded guilty.
Beldini is accused of accepting $20,000 from Dwek, 37, a former Ocean Township resident and admitted bank embezzler who worked as a government informant. Dwek pleaded guilty in October to one count each of money-laundering and bank fraud.
The former real estate mogul admitted in federal court that he had deposited a bad $25.2 million check at a PNC Bank in Eatontown in April 2006, and then wired away $22.2 million to before the bank realized the check was no good.
A day later, he tried the same scam, which was rejected after PNC already lost millions. Arrested by the FBI on bank fraud charges in 2006, Dwek apparently began cooperating for the government shortly after his arrest.
Court records indicate Dwek posed as a real estate developer seeking favors from public officials in various parts of the state. When seeking cash from the rabbis Dwek apparently told them that he needed to hide the proceeds from a fake designer handbag business.
Dwek is the son of Isaac Dwek, prominent Monmouth County rabbi who founded the Deal Yeshiva. Dwek's father has not been charged with any crime.
Solomon Dwek, once a highly regarded member of the Syrian Jewish community and known for his philanthropy, is now seen as a "moser," or "snitch," by some members of that community. Dwek has turned down a chance to enter the federal Witness Protection Program but he no longer lives in Deal.
The U.S. Attorney's Office in New Jersey has a spotless mark in corruption cases over the last seven years, with more than 100 guilty pleas or convictions.