Thursday, July 5, 2012

Brooklyn Rabbi Sentenced in New Jersey to 46 Months in Prison for Money Laundering Conspiracy

Mordchai Fish, the principal rabbi of Congregation Sheves Achim in Brooklyn, New York, was sentenced today to 46 months in prison for conspiring to launder approximately $900,000 he believed was criminal proceeds, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Fish, 59, of Brooklyn, New York, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Joel A. Pisano to an information charging him with money laundering conspiracy. Judge Pisano also imposed the sentence today in Trenton federal court.

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

Fish admitted that beginning in early 2008, he met with Solomon Dwek, an individual he now knows was a cooperating witness with the United States. For a fee of approximately 10 percent, Fish agreed to launder and conceal Dwek’s funds through a series of purported charities, also known as “gemachs,” which Fish controlled or to which he had access. Fish admitted that prior to laundering Dwek’s funds, Dwek repeatedly told him the money was the proceeds of illegal activity—including bank fraud, trafficking in counterfeit goods, and bankruptcy fraud.

In order to hide the source of the money, Fish directed Dwek to make the checks payable to several gemachs—including Boyoner Gemilas Chesed, Beth Pinchas, CNE, and Levovous—which were purportedly dedicated to providing charitable donations to needy individuals. Once Dwek gave him the checks, Fish passed them to a co-conspirator who deposited them into bank accounts held in the names of the purported charities. Fish would then arrange to make cash available through an underground money transfer network. Other individuals, including David S. Golhirsh, Naftoly Weber, Avrohom Y. Polack, Binyamin Spira, and Yoely Gertner, would provide Fish and Dwek with the cash.

Fish admitted that he engaged in approximately 15 money laundering transactions with Dwek, helping to convert approximately $900,000 in checks into more than $800,000 in cash, keeping a cut.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Pisano sentenced Fish to three years’ supervised release and ordered him to forfeit $90,000. Fish was ordered to surrender to the Bureau of Prisons on August 14, 2012.U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Ward, and special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge John R. Tafur, with the investigation.

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

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