YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A rabbi this morning admitted his role in laundering money through the charitable bank accounts for Solomon Dwek, the crook-turned-government informant who helped authorities pull off New Jersey’s largest public-corruption bust ever.
Edmond Nahum, 58, of Deal Nahum admitted he accepted nearly $200,000 in bank checks from Dwek made payable to two charitable organizations in Monmouth County that he controlled.
He said he also passed on checks to Saul Kassin, 89, the chief rabbi of Congregation Sharee Zion in Brooklyn, and the Magen Israel Society charitable organization, which Kassin controlled.
In each case, Nahum said, he knew the money wasn’t going to charity — or “gemach,” as these are known.
Kassin admitted in March that he accepted bank checks in exchange for checks issued by the MIS, charging a 10 percent commission for the deeds. He was sentenced to two years probation and ordered to make restitution earlier this month.
Also this morning, another man admitted conspiring to launder approximately $200,000 in funds that he believed were the proceeds of a counterfeit designer handbag business of Dwek’s.
Levi Deutsch, an Israeli citizen born in Brooklyn, said he was introduced by Rabbi Mordchai Fish, 58, of Brooklyn, and agreed to launder and conceal Dwek’s money for a 10 percent fee that he and Fish split. Fish pleaded guilty earlier this year to related charges and has a July 28 sentencing date.
“Few financial crimes offend our sensibilities like those that hide illegal activities behind the curtain of charity,” U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman said.
As part of his plea deal with the government, Nahum agreed to forfeit $175,381.33 in funds the FBI seized from the bank account of Deal Kupot. His sentencing is set for Sept. 22.
Nahum and Kassin were among 44 people charged in the wake of a July 23, 2009 federal sweep, made possible by Dwek‘s portrayal of a crooked developer — one he was suited to, given that he‘d been convicted of embezzling tens of millions of dollars.
Nahum opened doors for Dwek, telling him, for instance, that Kassin “would be able to move large amounts of money,” according to a federal complaint.
At first, Nahum accepted checks from Dwek made payable to Magen Israel Society, which Nahum passed on to Kassin, the government said. He then issued checks from the charity — minus his commission.
Fishman credited special agents of the FBI and IRS with making the case, handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian R. Howe, Deputy Chief of Fishman’s Special Prosecutions Division in Newark.