Thursday, June 02, 2011

Public Corruption: Chief Rabbi Sentenced for Illegally Moving Cash Related to International Charity

United States Attorney's Office
District of New Jersey

The chief rabbi of Congregation Sharee Zion in Brooklyn, N.Y., was sentenced today to two years of probation for operating an illegal money remitting business, after admitting he accepted bank checks in exchange for checks in lesser amounts from a charity he operated and controlled, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Saul Kassin, 89, of Brooklyn, N.Y., and Deal, N.J., previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Joel A. Pisano to an information charging him with operating the illegal business in conjunction with the bank account of the Magen Israel Society charitable organization, which transmitted money to individuals and organizations in the United States and Israel. Judge Pisano also imposed the sentence today in Trenton federal court.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

Kassin admitted that from June 2007 through December 2008, he operated an unlicensed money transmitting business, transferring thousands of dollars in checks to Solomon Dwek—an individual he later learned was a cooperating witness. Kassin admitted that he accepted bank checks made payable to Magen Israel Society and issued checks from the account to other organizations in exchange. He also admitted that he charged a 10 percent commission for this money transmitting service, and knew that the checks he issued from Magen Israel Society account would not be used for charitable purposes.

The defendant was originally charged by criminal complaint on July 23, 2009, as part of a takedown of 44 individuals for alleged public corruption and international money laundering offenses. The complaint alleges that Dwek was originally referred to Kassin by Rabbi Edmond Nahum, 57, of Deal, who informed Dwek that Kassin would be able to move large amounts of money. Initially, Nahum accepted checks from Dwek made payable to Magen Israel Society, which Nahum passed on to Kassin. Kassin would then issue checks from Magen Israel Society, minus commission, which Nahum would provide to Dwek. After several such transactions, Kassin met directly with Dwek on a number of occasions to exchange checks in larger amounts. On each occasion, Dwek told Kassin the checks were either proceeds of a counterfeit handbag business or a way to hide assets from Dwek’s bankruptcy court proceedings.

As part of the sentence imposed, Judge Pisano ordered Kassin to forfeit $367,500 and pay an additional fine of $36,750.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Ward; and IRS - Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Victor W. Lessoff, for the investigation leading to today’s sentence.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark J. McCarren of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Special Prosecutions Division in Newark.

The charges and allegations contained in the complaint against Nahum are merely accusations, and he is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Defense counsel: Gerald L. Shargel Esq., New York