Union city, new jersey-based real estate developer sentenced to 41 months in prison for money laundering and corruption
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 31, 2011
NEWARK, N.J. – Moshe “Michael” Altman, a Union City, New Jersey-based real estate developer, was sentenced today to 41 months in prison for offenses related to his arranging a $20,000 cash bribe to a Jersey City public official and laundering money he thought was criminally obtained, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Altman, 41, of Monsey, N.Y., previously pleaded guilty to two counts of an Indictment charging conspiracy to obstruct commerce by extortion under color of official right (Count One) and conspiracy to launder money (Count Four). He entered his guilty plea before U.S. District Judge Jose L. Linares, who also imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.
The extortion charge arose from a $20,000 bribe that Altman arranged for Solomon Dwek, who was working as a confidential witness for the government, to pay John Guarini, 61, of Bayonne, N.J., who served as a Jersey City Housing Department property improvement field representative. The money laundering charge arises from a scheme in which Altman, along with co-conspirators, used purported charitable, non-profit entities to “wash” approximately $668,000 in dirty checks for Dwek.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in Newark federal court:
In July 2007, Altman arranged for Dwek to pay a bribe to Guarini so that Guarini would ensure official approvals on properties Dwek purportedly was planning to develop in Jersey City. Altman admitted that he arranged to meet Dwek and Guarini at a building in Jersey City, where Altman led Dwek to a boiler room to facilitate the payment.
Altman also met with Dwek in March 2007 and was told that he had money to hide from a bankruptcy proceeding. In later meetings, Altman was told that Dwek had money from fraudulent bank deals and a counterfeit handbag business. Altman admitted that he engaged in approximately 15 transactions between May 2007 and July 2009 in which he accepted checks from Dwek and returned cash, less a fee for laundering the money. Altman instructed Dwek to write checks to purported charitable organizations such as Gmach Shefa Chaim. He collected approximately $109,300 in fees over the course of the scheme.
Shimon Haber, 35, of Brooklyn, N.Y., and Itzhak Friedlander, 43, of Union City, were two of Altman’s co-conspirators. On Jan.14, 2010, Haber pleaded guilty to his role in the conspiracy to launder money, and was sentenced by Judge Linares on May 25, 2010, to five months in prison and five months of home confinement. Friedlander pleaded guilty on April 8, 2010, and awaits sentencing, scheduled for April 14, 2011.
Guarini was indicted on January 12, 2010; his trial is scheduled to commence in June 2011.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Linares sentenced Altman to two years of supervised release. In sentencing the defendant, Judge Linares said that, “clearly he made a willful decision to engage in a criminal enterprise for quite some time.”
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 Special Agent in Charge Victor W. Lessoff, for the investigation leading to today’s sentence. He also thanked the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor Peter E. Warshaw Jr., for its assistance in the investigation.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Bradley A. Harsch and Dustin Chao of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Special Prosecutions Division in Newark.
As for Guarini, the charges and allegations contained in the Indictment against him are merely accusations, and he is considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Defense counsel: Jacob Laufer, Esq., New York