"The Jersey Sting: A True Story of Corrupt Pols, Money Laundering Rabbis, Black Market Kidneys, and the Informant Who Brought it All Down" (St. Martin's Press), by Ted Sherman and Josh Margolin: 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, N.J. (Margolin now works for the New York Post.) The book won honors from the American Society of Newspaper Editors and made the finals for a Pulitzer Prize.
The tale is complex. It centers 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 U.S. 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 — $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.