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NYC man admits to kidney trafficking

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TRENTON, N.J. -- A New York man pleaded guilty Thursday to what experts said was the first proven case of black-market organ trafficking in the United States.

Levy Izhak Rosenbaum admitted in federal court in Trenton that he had brokered 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.

His attorneys, Ronald Kleinberg and Richard Finkel, said in a statement that their client had performed a lifesaving service for desperately ill people who had been languishing on official transplant waiting lists.

The lawyers added that the money involved was for expenses associated with the procedures, which they claim were performed in prestigious American hospitals by experienced surgeons and transplant experts. The lawyers did not name the hospitals involved, nor are they named in court documents.

Prosecutors argued that Rosenbaum was fully aware he was running an illicit and profitable operation -- buying organs from vulnerable people in Israel for $10,000 and selling them to desperate, wealthy American patients.

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.

The 60-year-old Rosenbaum is from the Borough Park section of Brooklyn, where he had told neighbors he was in the construction business.

According to the United Network for Organ Sharing. demand for kidneys far outstrips the supply, with 4,540 people dying in the U.S. last year while waiting for a kidney.


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