TRENTON – An Israeli citizen, Levy Izhak Rosenbaum, who three years ago was arrested for brokering illegal kidney transplants was sentenced on Wednesday to 30 months imprisonment, becoming the first person convicted over illegal organ sales in the US.
Levy Izhak Rosenbaum, 61, previously pleaded not guilty to brokering the kidney transplants in exchange for at least $120,000, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Rosenbaum made headlines when he was caught up in Operation Bid Rig, a long-term investigation into political corruption in the state that resulted in more than 40 arrests.
Rosenbaum, who resided in Brooklyn, is the first person to be convicted under the federal statute on the black market sale of kidneys from paid donors, according to U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman.
“A black market where the moneyed sick can buy replacement parts from the less fortunate is not only grim, it apportions lifesaving treatments unfairly, insults donor dignity, and violates the law,” Prosecutor Paul Fishman said in a statement.
“Prison is an appropriate punishment for Levy Rosenbaum’s illegal capitalization on others’ desperation,” he said. “Although Rosenbaum painted himself as a benevolent kidney matchmaker, the criminal profits went right into his pocket.”
In addition to time behind bars, Rosenbaum was ordered to serve three years probation, pay a $5,000 fine and forfeit approximately $420,000, officials said.
Rosenbaum in his defense told the court,”It was wrong, but I thought the cause was good. I can assure this court I will never do this again.”
Some of the recipient who spoke in support of Rosenbaum described him as a devout Orthodox Jew who was dedicated to helping people.
“There are no victims here,” Rachel Warshower, who travelled from Brooklyn to support Rosenbaum, told the Associated Press.
Rosenbaum was exposed by a cooperating criminal defendant, Solomon Dwek, and an undercover FBI agent.
The physician, Radi Zaki, and Beth Duffy, the vice president of health care services at Albert Einstein Healthcare Network, testified separately that Rosenbaum always presented himself as a legitimate facilitator of donor matches for Israeli patients and provided all the correct paperwork for the donor matches.
Rosenbaum could face deportation after he serves his sentence, due to begin in October.