Levy Izhak Rosenbaum pleaded guilty in federal court in Trenton to brokering three illegal kidney transplants for New Jersey-based customers in exchange for payments of $120,000 or more. He also pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to broker an illegal kidney sale.
Each of the four counts carries a maximum five-year prison sentence plus a fine of up to $250,000. Rosenbaum also agreed to forfeit $420,000 in real or personal property that was derived from the illegal kidney sales.
Prosecutors say Rosenbaum would buy organs from vulnerable people in Israel for $10,000 and sell them to desperate patients.
Rosenbaum, 60, of Brooklyn, was arrested in July 2009 in New Jersey's largest ever corruption sting. Though he was one of more than 40 people arrested, including politicians and rabbis in New Jersey and Brooklyn, and was not a rabbi himself, the image of rabbis illegally selling kidneys garnered international headlines and made its way into the routines of late-night comedians for weeks afterward.
ating them as portable organ farms that you mine for the rich, not only compromises their health, it degrades their basic human dignity."
Under 1984 federal law, it is illegal for anyone to knowingly buy or sell organs for transplant. The practice is illegal just about everywhere else in the world, too.
But demand for kidneys far outstrips the supply, with 4,540 people dying in the U.S. last year while waiting for a kidney, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing. As a result, there is a thriving black market for kidneys around the world.