A Brooklyn man who pleaded guilty on Thursday to selling organs on the black market had a huge profit margin as he bought kidneys from Israelis for $10,000 and sold them to Americans for $120,000 or more. It's a strong business model but the kink in his plan was that one of his clients was an FBI agent, Bloomberg reported. With his guilty plea, 60-year-old Levy Izhak Rosenbaum became the first person ever convicted of organ trafficking in the United States, which outlawed selling human organs in 1984. In spite of it being illegal, Rosenbaum's practice does sound like it was successful, Bloomberg reports.
He told an undercover FBI agent that he had arranged “quite a lot” of transplants, according to the complaint.
“I've never had a failure,” he told the agent in a 2008 conversation quoted in the complaint.
Court papers don't identify hospitals where Mr. Rosenbaum's clients underwent transplants. Prosecutors haven't accused hospitals or doctors of wrongdoing.
“The transplant surgeries occurred in prestigious American hospitals, and were performed by experienced and expert kidney transplant surgeons,” Mr. Finkel and Ronald Kleinberg, another attorney for Mr. Rosenbaum, said in a statement after the hearing.
Rosenbaum will have to pay out $420,000 he made in the black-market organ business to the state, and he may get deported to his native Israel, Bloomberg reports. But his clients will get to keep their kidneys.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.