Rabbi, Doctor, Woman Arrested in Money Laundering
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A rabbi, a physician and a woman accomplice have been arrested for allegedly taking part in what authorities called a $2 million ″holy network″ involving money laundering and Hasidic diamond dealers.
Rabbi Abraham Low, 42, of Temple Mogen Abraham in the Fairfax district, and Dr. Alan Weston, 50, a Hollywood physician, were arrested Monday by the FBI. Also arrested was a woman known to the FBI as ″Charlie″ who has used the alias of Bernadette Chandler.
Low was charged with money laundering and Weston with aiding and abetting money laundering, offenses that carry a maximum 20-year prison term upon conviction, said FBI spokeswoman Karen Gardner. Chandler was charged with bank fraud, which carries a maximum five-year term.
In a sting operation, the rabbi laundered $10,000 in supposed ″drug money″ from an undercover agent and the woman set up a $1.5 million deal with the agent, whom she offered to sell assault rifles and other weapons, the FBI said.
The sting was organized after authorities discovered an initial $500,000 laundering scheme involving stolen bank checks.
The Los Angeles Times quoted unidentified rabbis as saying that Low and his synagogue were in bad financial shape, and could have lost as much as $18 million because of Low’s investment of the congregation’s money in bad real estate deals.
According to the indictment filed Friday in federal court, informant Christopher Golasz said that at Low’s request he had contacted ″Charlie″ in 1991, and arranged for the purchase of a stolen Bank of America check.
He and Weston then gave it to Low, who paid Golasz $30,000 and two diamond rings, the indictment said.
The FBI set up a sting with Golasz, who introduced Weston to an undercover FBI agent posing as a loan shark and drug dealer named Ronny.
″Weston told Ronny that he and Rabbi Low had the capability of laundering substantial amounts of illegally obtained, or ‘dirty,’ money on a weekly basis,″ the FBI affidavit said. ″Weston described what he called the ‘holy network’ of bank accounts held by charitable organizations through which the money would be channeled.
″Weston stated that the cash which Ronny wanted laundered would be delivered to Hasidic diamond dealers known to the rabbi,″ the affidavit said, adding that the laundered money would then be wired overseas.
″Ronny″ wanted a test transaction with $10,000. After it was concluded, and several planning conversations recorded, the three were arrested, the FBI said.