L.A. racketeer tied to Israeli organized crime sentenced to 32 years


LOS ANGELES (JTA) – A Southern California racketeer who was said to have close ties to an Israeli organized crime family was sentenced to 32 years in prison.

Moshe Matsri, 49, who was nicknamed “Moshe the Religious,” was sentenced Friday in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles for drug trafficking, money laundering and extortion. He was convicted in October.

During the sentencing, Matsri “sat shackled in court, wearing a blue kippah, glasses low on his nose and rocking back and forth,” the Los Angeles Times reported.

Matsri’s lawyer, Dean Steward, said he would file an appeal and argued that his client, a father of five, was a deeply religious and charitable man.

In recent years, Matsri operated out of the San Fernando Valley section of Los Angeles, prosecutors said, but maintained close ties with the Israel-based Abergil organized crime family. Headlines in the Southern California media referred to Matsri as an “Israeli crime leader.”

Prosecutors charged that Matsri used “his sophisticated network to move over $660,000 in cash, which he believed were drug proceeds, across international borders and the United States, in exchange for over $57,000 in commissions.”

Matsri has been in custody since July 2013, when he was arrested by U.S. officials. Police authorities in Israel, as well as in Holland, Belgium and Canada, aided the U.S. prosecution’s case.

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