World Bulletin / News Desk
An Israeli man who pleaded guilty to illegally brokering kidney transplants for profit in the United States, the first such conviction under federal law, was sentenced on Wednesday to 2-1/2 years in prison, prosecutors said.
Levy Izhak Rosenbaum, a 61-year old Israeli citizen who lived in Brooklyn, pleaded guilty last October to charges that he brokered kidney transplants between paid donors and recipients on three occasions.
Prosecutors said Rosenbaum charged between $120,000 and $150,000 to help three New Jersey residents find kidneys for transplant between 2006 and 2009.
He also pleaded to a count of conspiracy to broker a fourth kidney transaction following a sting operation leading to his arrest involving an undercover FBI agent who pretended to have a sick uncle.
Prosecutors said Rosenbaum typically found donors in Israel through newspaper advertisements who were willing to give up a kidney in exchange for payment, and that he helped arrange the necessary blood tests to ensure a match and for the donors' travel to the United States.
He also helped donors and recipients invent a cover story to trick hospital staff into thinking the donation was a purely altruistic exchange between friends or relatives, which is legal, rather than an illegal business deal, according to prosecutors.
Paul J. Fishman, the New Jersey U.S. Attorney, whose office prosecuted the case, said Rosenbaum was motivated by profit, not the saving of lives.
"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," Fishman said in a statement following the sentencing by Judge Anne E. Thompson.
"Prison is an appropriate punishment for Levy Rosenbaum's illegal capitalization on others' desperation. Although Rosenbaum painted himself as a benevolent kidney matchmaker, the criminal profits went right into his pocket."
Rosenbaum's lawyers could not immediately be reached for comment. Rosenbaum had been facing up to five years in prison for each of the four counts to which he pleaded guilty, prosecutors said.
Rosenbaum had earlier agreed to forfeit the $420,000 he had made in the kidney brokering cases for which he was convicted. He is due to begin his sentence on Oct. 12. As he is not a U.S. citizen, immigration authorities will decide whether to attempt to deport him once he has finished his sentence.
It did not identify the target of the civil action, which coincides with criminal inquiries into suspected fraud underway in Belgium and the Netherlands.
The continent’s population displacement reaches record levels in 2017, says UN report
Incident increases concerns about flow of contraband in French prisons
Ibrahimjon Asparov stands accused of supplying firearms, ammunition to Istanbul nightclub attacker
The 63-year-old leader, in power for nearly 12 years, also said she hoped to appoint equal numbers of male and female ministers from her conservative party if she wins a fourth term, though she could not speak for possible coalition partners.
Terror group continues to target Iraqi forces – especially Shia Hashd al-Shaabi – in northern Saladin province
Death toll may rise further after suicide bombers target car parking lot in northeast Borno state
"The worst has been avoided," Tsipras said after flying over the disaster zone northeast of Athens by helicopter, adding that about 3,700 acres (1,500 hectares) of forest and scrubland had been ravaged.
London Southend Airport remains open despite images showing thick, black smoke
Human rights campaigners urge US government to be 'vigilant' on incitement after deadly rally violence
Ankara demands to know whether Adil Oksuz, wanted over 2016 defeated coup attempt, is in Germany
'We cannot sit on a council for a president who tolerates bigotry and domestic terrorism,' say AFL-CIO representatives
Aid donated by humanitarian group for children in drought-stricken nation
Regional security, Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam to top agenda of talks, Sudanese FM says
Grace Mugabe fails to appear after reportedly turning self into police to face assault charges