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Israeli Man Sentenced to 18 Months in Prison for International Money Laundering Conspiracy with Brooklyn Rabbi

U.S. Attorney’s Office June 01, 2012
  • District of New Jersey (973) 645-2888

TRENTON, NJ—Levi Deutsch, an Israeli citizen born in Brooklyn, New York, was sentenced today to 18 months in prison for conspiring to launder $200,000 in funds that he believed were the proceeds of unlawful activities, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Deutsch, 35, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Joel A. Pisano to an information charging him with money laundering conspiracy. Judge Pisano imposed the sentence today in Trenton federal court.

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

Deutsch admitted that in March 2009, he was introduced to Solomon Dwek, who was a cooperating witness with the United States. The introduction was made by Rabbi Mordchai Fish, 59, of Brooklyn. For a fee of approximately 10 percent to be split between Deutsch and Fish, Deutsch agreed to launder and conceal Dwek’s funds through a charity, also known as a “gemach,” to which Deutsch had access. Deutsch admitted that Dwek informed him, prior to laundering the funds, that they were the proceeds of Dwek’s illegal business in trafficking counterfeit designer handbags.

In order to hide the source of the money, Fish or Deutsch directed Dwek to make the checks payable to the gemach known as Boyoner Gemilas Chesed (BGC)—purportedly dedicated to providing charitable donations to needy individuals. On two occasions in May 2009, Dwek provided checks made payable to BGC in the amount of $100,000 each. On each occasion, Dwek retrieved large sums of cash, totaling $90,000 or more, from Binyomin Spira, 31, of Spring Valley, New York, who operated an unlicensed money transmitting business out of an apartment and a bakery in Brooklyn. On the first occasion, Dwek accompanied Fish and Deutsch to the bakery. On the second occasion, Deutsch orchestrated the transaction by phone without Fish’s knowledge and directed Dwek to meet Spira at the bakery. Once Spira had the check, he gave it to another co-conspirator who deposited it into a bank account held in the name of BGC.

Deutsch also admitted instructing Dwek to use coded language over the telephone when discussing money laundering transactions.

On July 23, 2009, Deutsch was charged with Spira in a criminal complaint, and Fish was charged in three separate related criminal complaints. Spira pleaded guilty in November 2010 to operating an illegal money transmitting business, admitting that he had transferred thousands of dollars in cash to Fish, Deutsch, and Dwek. In early 2011, Fish pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit money laundering, admitting to engaging in money laundering transactions with Dwek totaling approximately $900,000. Fish’s sentencing is scheduled for June 18, 2012. Spira is scheduled to be sentenced on June 12, 2012.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Pisano sentenced Deutsch to three years of supervised release and ordered him to forfeit $25,000.

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 Acting Special Agent in Charge JoAnn S. Zuniga, for the investigation leading to today’s sentence.

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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