`The Jersey Sting` tells of FBI raid

Updated: Mar 26, 2011, 09:54 AM IST

London: It was like a small military undertaking when the FBI deployed over 300 agents in eastern New Jersey and the New York borough of Brooklyn early one July morning in 2009.

They captured 44 people, including five rabbis. Most were accused of political bribery, money laundering and tax evasion. One rabbi was charged with trafficking in human kidneys.

The story of ‘The Jersey Sting’ is meticulously, seriously — and humorously — told by Ted Sherman and Josh Margolin, two reporters at The Star-Ledger in Newark, NJ (Margolin now works for the New York Post.) Coverage of the investigation by Sherman and Margolin and The Star-Ledger staff was awarded the Jesse Laventhol Prize for Deadline News Reporting from the American Society of Newspaper Editors, and also was honoured as finalists for the Pultizer Prize.

The tale is complex. It centres on the career of Solomon Dwek, the son of a rabbi. He combined the roles of an unlicensed real estate broker, school executive, money launderer, political operator with a specialty in bribes, and an FBI informant wearing a concealed camera and voice recorder.

Dwek`s work for the FBI was authorized by US Attorney Chris Christie, now governor of New Jersey and a not-too-dark horse for the Republican nomination in the 2012 presidential race.

Christie was also the first to announce Dwek`s arrest following a plea agreement. Dwek pleaded guilty of trying to defraud a bank by cashing two phony checks — USD 25 million each. It was an attempt to shore up a Ponzi scheme in connection with his real estate business. He faces nine to 11 years in prison, remaining under "house arrest" while other cases are being decided.

So it`s not light reading to undertake instead of a TV whodunit after a heavy dinner and a long day at the office. The alert reader will also get an introduction to New Jersey politics and its reputation for corruption. It`s a help that the authors have furnished a convenient cast of characters with nearly 100 names and roles.

Bureau Report