Rabbi Eliahu Ben Haim, 60, of Long Branch, was sentenced today for his role in a money laundering scheme in which another man, Arye Weiss, 57, of Brooklyn, N.Y, operated an illegal money transmitting business, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced today.
Ben Haim previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Joel A. Pisano after being charged him with money laundering conspiracy. He was sentenced to five years in prison.
According to a release from the United States Attorney District of New Jersey, Ben Haim admitted that beginning in Oct. 2006, he met with a cooperating witness, Solomon Dwek, and for a fee of approximately 10 percent agreed to launder and conceal Dwek’s funds through an already-existing underground money transfer network.
Dwek was a Monmouth County-based real estate developer and the owner of several properties in Monmouth and Ocean counties who was charged with bank fraud and money laundering in 2009 for an alleged ponzi scheme.
Ben Haim admitted that prior to laundering Dwek’s funds, he was repeatedly told that the funds were the proceeds of Dwek’s illegal businesses and schemes, including bank fraud, trafficking in counterfeit goods, and bankruptcy fraud, the release states.
In order to conceal and disguise the nature and source of the funds, Ben Haim directed Dwek to make the checks payable to several organizations that Ben Haim operated, including Congregation Ohel Eliahu, Friends of Yechave Daat, and Congregation Yehuda Yaaleh. Once he received the checks from Dwek, Ben Haim deposited them into bank accounts held in the names of the organizations and then wired the proceeds of those checks to a co-conspirator in Israel, identified in the Information as “I.M,” or, at I.M.’s direction, to bank accounts held by other individuals and corporations in various foreign countries, including Israel, Turkey, China, Switzerland and Argentina, according to the release.
I.M. would then make cash available through an underground money transfer network, including at the cash houses operated by Schmuel Cohen, 27, a/k/a Schmulik Cohen; Yeshaye Ehrental, 68, a/k/a Yeshayahu Ehrental and Yishay Ehrental, and Weiss.
Judge Pisano also sentenced Ben Haim to three years of supervised release.