As part of an ongoing, 10-year investigation, FBI agents arrested dozens of people this morning, including the mayors of Hoboken and Secaucus, as well as the deputy mayor and council president of Jersey City.
A federal prosecutor says the money-laundering arrests include several rabbis in Brooklyn and New Jersey. A congregant of a synagogue in Deal, New Jersey, says he witnessed FBI agents removing boxes from the Deal Yeshiva this morning.
In addition to the corruption and money laundering charges, is one detailing a kidney-trafficking racket. The accused trafficker, Brooklyn-based Levy Rosenbaum, allegedly obtained kidneys from Israeli donors at the cost of $10,000 apiece and sold them for as much as $160,000.
A cooperating witness who had been charged with bank fraud in May 2006 was named in all 29 of the criminal complaints released by the U.S. District Court.
WNYC reporter Bob Hennelly discusses the arrest on All Things Considered.
Some of those charged:
• Peter Cammarano III, the newly elected mayor of Hoboken and an attorney, charged with accepting $25,000 in cash bribes, including $10,000 last Thursday, from an undercover cooperating witness.
• L. Harvey Smith, a New Jersey Assemblyman and recent mayoral candidate in Jersey City, charged along with an aide of taking $15,000 in bribes to help get approvals from high-level state agency officials for building projects.
• Daniel Van Pelt, a New Jersey Assemblyman, charged with accepting a $10,000 bribe.
• Dennis Elwell, mayor of Secaucus, charged with taking a $10,000 cash bribe.
• Anthony Suarez, mayor of Ridgefield and an attorney, charged with agreeing to accept a $10,000 corrupt cash payment for his legal defense fund.
• Louis Manzo, the recent unsuccessful challenger in the Jersey City mayoral election and former state Assemblyman, and his brother and political advisor Robert Manzo, both with taking $27,500 in corrupt cash payments for use in Louis Manzo’s campaign.
• Leona Beldini, the Jersey City deputy mayor and a campaign treasurer, charged with taking $20,000 in conduit campaign contributions and other self-dealing in her official capacity.
• Eliahu Ben Haim, of Long Branch, N.J., the principal rabbi of a synagogue in Deal, N.J., charged with money laundering of proceeds derived from criminal activity.
• Saul Kassin, of Brooklyn, N.Y., the chief rabbi of a synagogue in Brooklyn, New York, charged with money laundering of proceeds derived from criminal activity.
• Edmund Nahum, of Deal, N.J., the principal rabbi of a synagogue in Deal, charged with money laundering of proceeds derived from criminal activity.
• Mordchai Fish, of Brooklyn, N.Y., a rabbi at a synagogue in Brooklyn, charged with money laundering of proceeds derived from criminal activity. His brother, also a rabbi, was charged as well.