16 Tuesday May 2017
Lawyers for a man who pleaded guilty Thursday in the first ever federal conviction for illegal organ trafficking say he was performing life-saving services for severely ill people.
Levy Izhak Rosenbaum, from New York, admitted in a Trenton federal court to brokering three illegal kidney transplants for desperate New Jersey-based customers in exchange for payments of $120,000 or more.
He also pleaded guilty to a conspiracy count for brokering an illegal kidney sale.
Convicted trafficker: Levy Izhak Rosenbaum , 60, before entering the courthouse in Trenton, New Jersey, on Thursday
Attorneys Ronald Kleinberg and Richard Finkel say Rosenbaum never solicited clients.
He simply agreed to help desperately ill people by finding them kidney donors, they said.
The lawyers claim the surgeries occurred in prestigious American hospitals and were performed by experienced transplant experts.
They did not, however, name the hospitals involved, the Associated Press reports.
The lawyers claimed that the donors he arranged to give up kidneys were fully aware of what they were doing.
But anthropologist and organ trade expert Nancy Scheper-Hughes, who described Israel as a ‘pariah’ in the organ transplant world, has said in the past that many of the donors were desperately poor immigrants from eastern European countries such as Moldova, Romania and Russia.
They say the recipients are leading healthy lives thanks to Rosenbaum.
The 60-year-old was arrested two years ago following a huge investigation into corruption in New Jersey.
The probe led to 46 arrests, including several rabbis, the New York Daily News reports.
He was nabbed after an FBI informant who was pretending to be a businessman told him he was looking for a new kidney for a sick uncle
"Business" has a very wide meaning in those circles.