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Kidney failure for first person in U.S. convicted of organ trafficking

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

UPDATE: A Brooklyn man admitted today that he brokered three black market kidney transplants for $410,000 before he was caught trying to pull off another, making him the first person in the U.S. ever to be convicted under federal law of paying organ donors.

“A black market in human organs is not only a grave threat to public health,” U.S. Attorney Paul S. Fishman said. “It reserves lifesaving treatment for those who can best afford it at the expense of those who cannot. We will not tolerate such an affront to human dignity.”

Federal investigators discovered the operation run by Levy Izhak Rosenbaum, 60, as part of a massive North Jersey corruption sting that netted three mayors as well as dozens of other officials and political operatives.

Rosenbaum admitted that he hatched the scheme with others to provide the service to three New Jersey resident, in exchange for large payments — $120,000, $150,000 and $140,000. He said he helped donors and recipients create cover stories in order to fool hospital employees into believing the transplants were on the up-and-up.

The transplants were done at major American hospitals by top surgeons, his lawyer said.

FBI agents learned of the operation through a Solomon Dwek, a convicted Jersey Shore who was cooperating in a sting aimed at catching public officials on the take.

Posing as someone whose uncle needed a kidney transplant, an FBI agent recorded Rosenbaum saying, “I’m doing this a long time.”

Rosenbaum was also recorded telling the agent and Dwek that he’d help the recipient and the donor – brought in from Israel — create a bogus story to make everything seem legit. He said he’d been arranging black market kidney transplants for a decade.

He asked for $150,000, “explaining that the high price was due in part to payments that would be made to individuals in Israel for their assistance in locating the donor,” Fishman said.

At a follow-up meeting, Rosenbaum sought a blood sample – and, somewhat ironically, said the price had been bumped up to $160,000. Dwek gave him four blank checks totaling $10,000 as a down payment and said that Rosenbaum could make them payable to a charity, the government said.

As part of his plea, Rosenbaum agreed to pony up $420,000 before his scheduled Feb. 2, 2012 sentencing.

He remains under house arrest with electronic monitoring until then.

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