A two-year corruption and international money-laundering investigation stretching from the Jersey Shore to Brooklyn to Israel and Switzerland culminated in charges against 44 people on Thursday, including three New Jersey mayors, two state assemblymen and five rabbis, the authorities said. The case began with bank fraud charges against a member of an insular Syrian Jewish enclave centered in a seaside town. Marra Jr. Even veteran political observers were taken aback by the scope of the investigation.
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He was facing nine to 11 years under the terms of his plea deal, which led to his cooperation agreement with the government. Federal prosecutors urged U. District Judge Jose Linares in Newark to impose a lesser sentence, citing the extensive scope of his efforts in a three-year FBI undercover operation that became the largest sting operation in New Jersey history.
The U. Dwek faces a second sentencing date tomorrow morning in Monmouth County on additional charges involving fraudulent bank loans.
Dwek, now 40, has been behind bars since June , when Linares summarily revoked his bail for lying to the FBI about a rental car that had been reported stolen in Maryland, where his family now lives.
The charges in the matter were later dropped. The next day, he tried to do it again at another branch in Asbury Park before the bank — only then realizing there were no funds to back the first check — abruptly stopped the transaction as the second deposit was being made. Facing 30 years in jail for the bank fraud, Dwek secretly entered into a plea deal following his arrest, agreeing to cooperate with the U.
That cooperation led to one of the most far-reaching, and at times bizarre, undercover sting ever seen. Posing as a corrupt developer, he offered cash bribes to dozens of elected officials and candidates for office in Hudson County and elsewhere to expedite phony real estate projects — one, an unbuildable luxury condominium development purportedly located atop a chromium waste site in Jersey City near the turnpike. At the same time, he set up former business partners, rabbis and others who helped him launder millions supposedly siphoned out of his bankrupt real estate empire — along with cash he claimed was coming out of a knock-off designer handbag operation — through religious charities and organizations.
The sting, which became known as Bid Rig III, did not come to light until July , when three mayors, two legislators, five Orthodox rabbis and dozens of others were arrested in a case that made national headlines. Lawyers for many of those charged sharply criticized the operation, claiming that Dwek set up people in an effort to get out of jail.
Dwek himself raised the ire of Linares over the course of several trials, culminating with his bail revocation after learning Dwek had misled his FBI handlers over the stolen car report. Most of those charged in the case were either convicted or pleaded guilty.
Of the 46 people ultimately arrested, 32 entered guilty pleas, four were convicted at trial, two were acquitted, one died, and charges were dropped against four. With Dwek now sentenced, the case has only a few loose ends left. Just two others are still awaiting trial while one other defendant, who disappeared the day of the July arrests, remains a fugitive.
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44 Charged by U.S. in New Jersey Corruption Sweep
Dwek was a former real estate investor who became an FBI informant. Born to a Sephardic Syrian Jewish family and a resident of Deal Park , a neighborhood in Ocean Township, New Jersey , Dwek ran a real estate empire in and around Monmouth County under multiple business names, and was vice-president of the Deal Yeshiva, a non-profit Orthodox Jewish religious school which his parents founded. The investors defrauded by Dwek were also members of the local Syrian Jewish community. Those arrested by authorities included public officials, politicians, and three Orthodox Rabbis from a Syrian Jewish background.
The Jersey Sting is one of the books that New Jersey residents, and especially those living in the shore area, will want to look for the next time they visit the bookstore. The book, released on March 15, was written by Ted Sherman and Josh Margolin and details Solomon Dwek's ponzi scheme and how his cooperation with the FBI led to the arrests of several politicians and others who helped him unfurl his plan. Joseph Kohen, a former mortgage broker from Long Branch, was recently sentenced to 30 months in federal prison for his role in Dwek's attempt to defraud PNC Bank. Margolin, a former Star Ledger reporter and current New York Post reporter, said these locals and others became part of one of the largest federal sting operations in history.
New Book Details Solomon Dwek Arrest, Aftermath
The book, released on March 15, was written by Ted Sherman and Josh Margolin and details Solomon Dwek's ponzi scheme and how his cooperation with the FBI led to the arrests of several politicians and others who helped him unfurl his plan. Margolin, a former Star Ledger reporter and current New York Post reporter, said these locals and others from other parts of the state became part of one of the largest federal sting operations in history. Dwek agreed to wear wire and help the FBI catch the other players in his scheme, and their arrests are where the book begins. We had an existing working relationship so it was a natural extension of what we had done for a number of years.