FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 20, 2011
TRENTON, N.J. – Levi Deutsch, an Israeli citizen born in Brooklyn, N.Y., admitted today to conspiring to launder approximately $200,000 in funds that he believed were the proceeds of unlawful activities, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Levi Deutsch, 34, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Joel A. Pisano to an Information charging him with money laundering conspiracy.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in Trenton federal court:
Deutsch admitted that in March 2009, he was introduced to Solomon Dwek, an individual he now knows was a cooperating witness with the United States. The introduction was made by Rabbi Mordchai Fish, 58, 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 during 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, 30, of Spring Valley, N.Y., 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 is scheduled for sentencing July 28, 2011. Spira will be sentenced on a date to be determined.
The charge to which Deutsch pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. In addition, Deutsch agreed to forfeit approximately $25,000 by the date of sentencing. Judge Pisano ordered Deutsch to remain on house arrest with electronic monitoring pending sentencing, currently scheduled for September 20, 2011.
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 the guilty plea.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark McCarren of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Special Prosecutions Division in Newark.
Defense counsel: Stacy Biancamano Esq., Nutley, N.J.; Michael Baldassare Esq., Chatham, N.J.