Saturday, August 8, 2009
Meet the Jewish kidney dealer
The Brooklyn man arrested for organ trafficking in connection with a massive federal corruption and money laundering sting is described as a thug who reportedly pulled a gun on kidney "donors" who were getting cold feet. Levy-Izhak Rosenbaum allegedly bought kidneys from impoverished people overseas for $10,000 and turned them around for $160,000 in the United States. His operation was first brought to the attention of the FBI by Nancy Scheper-Hughes, a University of California, Berkeley anthropologist who studied human organ trafficking. She described Rosenbaum as the main U.S. broker for an international trafficking network. One of her sources, a man who worked with Rosenbaum, said he would pull a pistol on nervous kidney sellers, telling them "You're here. A deal is a deal. Now, you'll give us a kidney or you'll never go home." Rosenbaum became part of the federal corruption probe, which netted more than 40 people, including rabbis and elected officeholders from New Jersey and New York, after an FBI informant crossed paths with him and learned of his organ trafficking operation. The informant introduced Rosenbaum to an undercover agent whose uncle supposedly needed a kidney transplant. According to the report, Rosenbaum described himself as a "matchmaker" who pulled off a lot of transactions. The scope of the probe extends well beyond Rosenbaum's trafficking operation, though. Tens of millions of dollars were allegedly laundered through Jewish charities and bribes were allegedly passed to New Jersey politicians, including three mayors, for shady development deals.