A New York man pleaded guilty today to what experts said was the first proven case of black-market organ trafficking in the US. Levy Izhak Rosenbaum admitted in federal court in Trenton that he had brokered three illegal kidney transplants from people in Israel for US 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 said Rosenbaum had performed a lifesaving service for people who had been languishing on waiting lists. "The transplants were successful and the donors and recipients are now leading full and healthy lives," they said. But prosecutors said 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 wealthy US 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. (Read more black market stories.)