Yesterday, federal agents arrested dozens of individuals, many of them NJ politicians and lawmakers as well as prominent religious figures in NJ and NY, in a probe that began as a money laundering investigation but then turned into a political corruption bust as well. The Star-Ledger reports, "The bribes went down in diners, living rooms and parking lots. New Jersey Assemblymen took them, mayors took them, and so did dozens of others. Orthodox rabbis, acting more like crime bosses than religious leaders, laundered millions through synagogues and yeshivas in Deal, one of the state's wealthiest towns. And a Realtor tried to sell an informant a black market kidney for $160,000."

Among the arrestees are, per the Star-Ledger, "Hoboken Mayor Peter Cammarano, 32, and rabbi Saul Kassin, the 87-year-old spiritual leader of the close-knit Syrian Sephardic Jewish community in Deal and Brooklyn. Others were Secaucus Mayor Dennis Elwell, 64; Anthony Suarez, 42, the mayor of Ridgefield; Leona Beldini, 74, the Jersey City deputy mayor; Assemblymen L. Harvey Smith (D-Hudson), 60 and Daniel Van Pelt (R-Ocean), 44; rabbi Edmund Nahum, 56, of Deal; and rabbi Eliahu Ben Haim, 58, of Long Branch. In all, 44 people were charged, 29 of them from New Jersey." The FBI's Weysan Dun said, "The list of names and titles of those arrested today sounds like a roster for a community leaders' meeting. Sadly, these prominent individuals were not in a meeting room, but were in the FBI booking room this morning." The Post, which dubs this the "KOSHER NOSTRA," has a map of where the players are located.

The cooperating witness who led both the money launderers and crooked pols to the FBI and IRS is Solomon Dwek, described as "The son of a prominent New Jersey rabbi, Solomon Dwek [who] brought shame on his tight-knit Syrian Jewish community when he was arrested for bank fraud in 2006," by the Daily News. The Times has descriptions of Dwek's dealings with various parties—for instance, he received a bundle of $97,000 of cash in an Applejacks box.

Hoboken Mayor Cammarano posted the $100,000 bail and said he's going to stay in office, denying all charges against him. Of course, he was caught saying stuff like:

Talking about the runoff election, Cammarano allegedly said, "[r]ight now, the Italians, the Hispanics, the seniors are locked down. Nothing can change that now. . . . I could be, uh, indicted, and I'm still gonna win 85 to 95 percent of those populations."

Cammarano: "We get to the point where I'm sworn in on July 1st, and we're breaking down the world into three categories at that point. There's the people who were with us, and that's you guys. There's the people who climbed on board in the runoff. They can get in line ... And then there are the people who were against us the whole way. They get ground ... They get ground into powder."


And Brooklyn and NJ rabbi Kassin leads the Shaare Zion Synagogue; one member told NY1, "I'm hoping he clears his name. "I think someone is setting him up. He doesn't seem like the type of person who would do something bad."