We found out earlier this week that Michele Brown wanted Chris Christie to be given the credit for the political busts that resulted from molding Solomon Dwek from “money launderer and Ponzi schemer” to briber-of-Democratic officials. And with the clamoring to take credit comes the responsibility of answering the tough questions that creep up when you are dealing with one real shady criminal like Dwek is.
A Star-Ledger examination of court documents shows that before Dwek became an informer for the FBI, he was running a wild Ponzi operation in which one investment was being used to pay off the debt mounting from the last one and on into the millions in the same kind of geometry that eventually exposed financier Bernard Madoff.
Dwek admitted that he schemed with mortgage broker Joseph Kohen, 39, of Deal, to defraud PNC Bank of more than $50 million and launder $22.8 million of the proceeds through other banks.
So far, there are 120 lawsuits with respect to his crimes, and that number may very well grow over time as more comes out.
Back in July, when the story first broke, it was reported that Dwek was not originally involved in anything other than money laundering and bank fraud – certainly nothing to do with any politicians:
The case began with bank fraud charges against a member of an insular Syrian Jewish enclave centered in a seaside town. But when that man became a federal informant and posed as a crooked real estate developer offering cash bribes to obtain government approvals, it mushroomed into a political scandal that could rival any of the most explosive and sleazy episodes in New Jersey’s recent past.
And yesterday, I wrote about the very interesting set of “coincidences” between Dwek and Chris Christie, including the $500 donation that Dwek made to the Bush campaign through Christie.
For someone who prided himself and made his name on cleaning up crime and busting people who defraud others, there is a very serious question regarding Chris Christie and how Solomon Dwek was treated. Here is someone who (1) as far as we know had NO prior dealings with political officials before he was busted for very serious financial crimes, (2) has a financial connection to Christie through a donation to Bush in 2000, (3) was busted around the same time that he spoke to Rove about his future in politics, and around the same time as the lists were being created to see which US Attorneys were to be fired and (4) suddenly, Dwek went from a money launderer and Ponzi schemer to someone being used as an informant to bust Democratic officials.
Now, if any Democratic official was dumb enough to take a bribe and got busted, that is his/her own fault. But there is a very important question that needs to be answered – and that is why Christie went easy on someone who defrauded so many individuals and institutions for tens of millions of dollars and turned him into a “cooperating witness” for what appears to be largely unrelated political bribery.