In separate money laundering complaints, several individuals from Brooklyn and New Jersey were charged with offenses ranging from the trafficking of kidneys from Israeli donors to laundering proceeds from selling fake Gucci and Prada bags.
One criminal complaint charges a Brooklyn man, Levy Izhak Rosenbaum, with conspiring to broker the sale of a human kidney for a transplant, at a cost of $160,000 to the transplant recipient. According to the Complaint, Rosenbaum said he had been brokering the sale of kidneys for 10 years, according a press release from the New Jersey Department of Justice.
Law enforcement personnel, with the assistance of a cooperating witness, first infiltrated a pre-existing money laundering network that operated internationally between Brooklyn, Deal, N.J., and Israel and laundered at least tens of millions of dollars through charitable, non-profit entities controlled by rabbis in New York and New Jersey.
Most of the defendants were arrested early Thursday morning by federal agents, led by Special Agents of the FBI Newark Division and IRS Criminal Investigation Division, according to the press release.
Mike Winnick of the Elberon section of Long Branch was praying inside the Deal Synagogue when it was raided by FBI, IRS and Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office agents.
"Everyone was looking at each other, like, `What's going on here?' " he said.
Winnick said four FBI agents escorted a rabbi from the synagogue into his office and blocked the doorway.
Winnick said he left shortly afterward.
Nearby, FBI and IRS agents removed several boxes from the Deal Yeshiva, a school that educates the children of Sephardic Jews. One agent slowly walked an elderly rabbi into the building as another covered his face with a felt hat.
Court-authorized search warrants were also being executed approximately 20 locations in New Jersey and New York, to recover, among other things, large sums of cash and other evidence of criminal conduct, according to the press release. Additionally, 28 seizure warrants were being executed against bank accounts in the names of the money laundering defendants and entities they control.
Those charged in the public corruption investigation are scheduled to begin making appearances today in federal court in Newark at 2 p.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Madeline Cox Arleo. Those charged in the money laundering investigation, are scheduled to begin making initial appearances thereafter before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Falk, according to the press release.
The state of New Jersey has seen more than 130 public officials plead guilty or be convicted of corruption since 2001.
—CNBC contributed to this report