Rabbi Takes A Sabbatical To Jail

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Money Laundering, by Flickr user "Images_Of_Money", licensed via Creative Commons.Rabbi Mordchai Fish, of Brooklyn, New York, has been sentenced to 46 months in prison for laundering nearly a million dollars.  In early 2008, Fish accepted checks to charities in New York and New Jersey from admitted Ponzi schemer and FBI informant Solomon Dwek.  The charities, including Boyoner Gemilas Chesed, Beth Pinchas, and Levovous, are called “gemachs”, groups intended to give money to people in need.  Instead, the cash went straight back to Dwek, freshly laundered, with Fish keeping a nice 10% commission for himself in the process.  Too bad Dwek was wired up and handing Fish bait money provided by the FBI.  Over two years, Fish and Dwek, with the latter informing all the while, laundered more than $900,000, a crime punishable by a maximum 20 years in prison and fines up to $200,000.  Fish swam by the recommended 57-month sentence from Judge Joel Pisano, receiving a lower sentence because of his work in the Orthodox community.

Fish claims that it had been hell for him everyday and that he had been living in shame with this guilt, worried that he would get caught.  I don’t know how worried he was, profiting 10% commission and slipping it right under the noses of his supposed charitable foundations.  If I were a money laundering Rabbi, I would almost be proud of my elaborate scheme and elongated success.  Though, this is apparently not the first time Rabbi Fish has been in trouble with the law: he was sentenced to home confinement in 2001 for bank fraud.  You would think he learned his lesson the first time, but it looks like he just moved on to bigger and more sophisticated crimes when granted grace in the eyes of the government.