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The Jersey Sting
Chris Christie and the most brazen case
of Jersey-style corruption—ever
For more than three years, the FBI had been trolling for corruption in one of the nation’s most corrupt states. And the bait this time was an undercover informant, a failed real estate mogul named Solomon Dwek, mired in bankruptcy and facing 30 years in jail for a $50 million bank fraud.
Wearing a hidden wire, Dwek took on a fake identify, calling himself David Esenbach, a fast-talking, seemingly reckless guy with a loose wallet who was willing to pay off anyone to get jobs fast-tracked. Someone with a plan to put up impossibly big, luxury high-rises on what turned out to be toxic waste sites. Incredibly, no one ever questioned why.
At the same time, Dwek, using his own name, began laundering millions of dollars through a sophisticated and complex tax fraud scheme secretly thriving within the synagogues and yeshivas of his own, close-knit Orthodox Jewish community, targeting friends, relatives and former partners. It was an international scam that stretched from the streets of Jersey City to the beaches of the Jersey Shore, to the impenetrable religious enclaves of Brooklyn, and all the way to Israel.
He told those he would soon betray that he was working on “schnookie deals” aimed at outwitting the IRS and his creditors. He told politicians he had cash to burn. And he got one guy running a worldwide black market organ transplant operation to sell him a kidney for someone’s desperately ill “uncle” for a $160,000 finders fee. Really. A kidney.
When it all finally came to light, in the early morning hours of July 23, 2009, there was a rogue’s gallery like no other. Three mayors. Five Orthodox rabbis. A retired burlesque stripper. An illegal kidney broker. A former punk rocker. The president of the Jersey City council. Real estate developers. Two New Jersey assemblymen. Political operatives and Hasidic businessmen from New York. The website Gawker quickly found a way to put it all into perspective: “Everyone in New Jersey was arrested today!”
But what led up to that point was a narrative replete with drama. Along the way, there were case-threatening mistakes, internal turf battles, and sudden changes in direction that surprised even prosecutors.
A tale of greed, corruption, betrayal, ambition, politics, religion, money and morality, revolving around a man known simply as The Rabbi’s Son...
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