YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Another Brooklyn rabbi admitted his role in laundering money for Solomon Dwek, the crook-turned-government informant who helped authorities pull off New Jersey’s largest public-corruption bust ever.
Lavel Schwartz, 60, pleaded guilty in federal court in Trenton yesterday to conspiring to launder $200,000 to $400,000 in funds that he believed was dirty.
U.S. District Judge Joel A. Pisano set sentencing for Oct. 22, 2012.
Schwartz admitted that, beginning in May 2008, he and his brother, Rabbi Mordchai Fish, met with Dwek and, for a 10-percent fee, agreed to launder and conceal money through a series of purported charities, also known as “gemachs,” that Fish controlled or had access to.
Schwartz said Dwek told him the money came from trafficking in counterfeit goods.
Fish directed Dwek to make the checks payable to several gemachs, which were purportedly dedicated to providing charitable donations to needy individuals. These included Boyoner Gemilas Chesed, Beth Pinchas, CNE and Levovous.
Once he received the checks from Dwek, Fish passed them on to a co-conspirators who deposited them into bank accounts held in the names of the purported charities.
Fish controlled an underground money transfer network that brought the laundered money back to him and Dwek, the government said.
Schwartz said he helped count the money and encouraged Dwek to continue, in the hopes of collecting more. All told, he said, he participated in about 10 illegal transactions.
Schwartz and Fish were among 44 people charged amid 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.
Fish has already pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit money laundering and is currently scheduled to be sentenced on June 18, 2012.
Schwartz, who faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, also agreed to forfeit approximately $90,000 before he’s sentenced, which the government said represents his total fee.
“Few financial crimes offend our sensibilities like those that hide illegal activities behind the curtain of charity,” U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman said.
Fishman credited special agents of the FBI and IRS with making the case, handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark McCarren of Fishman’s Special Prosecutions Division in Newark.
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