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Rabbi Saul Kassin

Rabbi Saul Kassin

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Hoboken Mayor Peter Cammarano, 5 rabbis among dozens arrested in sweeping money laundering probeBy John Marzulli, Matt Lysiak and Carrie MelagoDAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS Updated Thursday, July 23rd 2009, 2:39 PM Sciarrino/APHoboken Mayor Peter Cammarano, left, is led into FBI headquarters in Newark, NJ.Top-ranking Jersey politicians and dozens of others there and in Brooklyn - including five rabbis - were collared Thursday in an extensive, yearslong corruption probe, authorities said.Forty-four people were charged in raids tied to old fashioned bribe-taking as well as an international scheme that laundered millions in dirty money - including proceeds from the sale of kidneys - through charities controlled by area rabbis.Hoboken Mayor Peter Cammarano, Secaucus Mayor Denis Elwell, Jersey City Deputy Mayor Leona Baldini, Jersey City Council President Mariano Vega and two state assemblymen were among the Jersey pols rounded up by the FBI and expected to be arraigned in U.S.

District Court in Newark Thursday afternoon.Acting US Attorney Ralph Marra said the arrests underscore "more than ever the pervasive nature of public corruption in this state," adding, "corruption was a way of life.

They existed in an ethics-free zone."Highlights of the takedown - stunning in its breadth, even by New Jersey standards - include the arrest of:* Cammarano, only in office about three weeks, who was charged with accepting $25,000 in bribes, including $10,000 just last Thursday, from an undercover witness.* Assemblyman L.

Harvey Smith, charged with an aide with taking $15,000 in bribes to secure building approvals.* Assemblyman Daniel Van Pelt, charged with accepting a $10,000 bribe.The scandal has even touched Gov.

Jon Corzine's administration: His Community Affairs Commissioner, Joseph Doria, of Bayonne, resigned Thursday after his home and office in Trenton were raided.Additionally, numerous rabbis from synagogues in Brooklyn and Deal, N.J., were charged with laundering proceeds from criminal activities through their charities.

One of the arrested, Rabbi Saul Kassin, is the son of Jacob Kassin, the onetime chief rabbi of the Syrian Sephardic community in Deal.

Marra said the clergy members "cloaked their extensive criminal activity behind a facade of rectitude."One Brooklyn man stood out in the sweeping list of arrests - Levy Izhak Rosenbaum, accused of trafficking in human organs.For 10 years, Rosenbaum convinced poor and vulnerable people to donate their kidneys for $10,000 and then sold them for $160,000 to the recipients, prosecutors said.According to authorities, investigators first had a confidential informant infiltrate the money-laundering scheme operated between Brooklyn, Deal, N.J., and Israel.The informant told investigation targets that he was in bankruptcy and interested in hiding his assets, laundering $3 million through the rabbis since June 2007.Investigators then turned their attention to New Jersey politicians.

The same informant claimed to be a developer and owner of a tile business, meeting with mayoral candidates and other public officials who allegedly took bribes and, in return, pledged their assistance in gaining building permits and approvals.Not surprisingly, the bribe-taking was rampant in areas with highly contested mayoral and council elections.

The bribes were parcelled out to straw donors, who wrote checks to the candidates for legal amounts, authorities said.The sweep comes in the midst of a heated gubernatorial race in New Jersey, which pits incumbent Democratic Gov.

Jon Corzine against Republican Chris Christie.

A former U.S.

Attorney, Christie took on several corrupt politicians, prosecuting powerful former Hudson County Executive Robert Janiszewski and ex-Hoboken Mayor Anthony Russo, both [email protected] more news videos at: http://www.nbcnewyork.com/video.Ads by Yahoo!EmailPrintRssShareDiggStumbleUponFacebookSee all share links >>Del.icio.usMixxRedditPropellerNewsvineFurl

http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2009/07/23/2009-07-23_2_new_jersey_mayors_arrested_in_sweeping_money_laundering_probe.html
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