‘Jacob the Jeweler’ Indicted on Money Laundering Charges

Jacob Arabo, founder of Jacob & Co., was one of 16 persons charged with violating federal drug laws including conspiracy to distribute more than 476 kilograms of cocaine and laundering more than $270 million, federal prosecutors in Detroit announced June 15.

Arabo, 41, also known as “Jacob the Jeweler,” whose real name is Jacob Arabov, is a high-end retailer and jewelry designer famous for his diamond jewelry and oversize diamond watches and for his celebrity clientele, which includes David Beckham, Madonna, Sir Elton John, Naomi Campbell, and Sean Combs. The company’s flagship store is located at 48 E. 57th St., New York.

“The arrest of Mr. Arabov is the result of an unfortunate misunderstanding that we believe will be straightened out in the next several weeks,” a spokeswoman for Jacob & Co. told JCK. “We are confident that once the government is advised of all the facts surrounding these issues that all of the charges against Mr. Arabov will be completely dismissed.”

The second superseding indictment, which made the front page of the New York Post and New York Daily News, is part of a previous indictment returned last year that alleges that Terry Flenory, Demetrius Flenory, and 23 others operated a drug organization, at some point named the Black Mafia Family, which dealt in multikilo quantities of cocaine in the Detroit metropolitan area beginning in the early 1990s, said Stephen J. Murphy, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan. By the mid 1990s, the organization extended into other parts of the country including California, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, and Texas.

BMF used vehicles equipped with traps and hidden compartments to conceal and transport cash generated from selling cocaine, prosecutors allege.

Since 2000, law-enforcement officers from across the country have seized over 476 kilograms of cocaine destined for distribution by this organization, federal prosecutors said. More than $5 million in cash was seized by law-enforcement officers between October 1997 and June 2005.

The statement says that “members of the organization used the illegal proceeds of their narcotic sales, purchased and leased numerous luxury vehicles, acquired and sold real property, and purchased jewelry while concealing the true source and nature of the funds involved in the transaction through false names and nominee purchasers.”

Prosecutors allege that members of the organization would deposit large amounts of cash acquired from the sale of cocaine into various bank accounts, purchase cashier’s checks and money orders, and wire-transfer the funds. “These funds would then be used to purchase assets and pay personal expenses with the goal of concealing the true source, nature, and ownership of the funds, which had been derived from the organization’s cocaine sales,” prosecutors say.

Prosecutors also allege that members of the organization would purchase winning four-digit Michigan lottery tickets with drug proceeds from an individual who obtained them from the true winners in cash. These winning tickets, which prosecutors say are valued at more than $1 million, would be redeemed with the state of Michigan’s lottery bureau and used to purchase homes, make mortgage payments, and purchase vehicles, “hiding the fact that the true source of the money were derived from the drug organization’s cocaine sales,” the statement reads.

The indictment also seeks criminal forfeiture of more than 30 pieces of jewelry, 13 residences, 35 vehicles, numerous bank accounts, over $1.2 million in seized currency, and a money judgment totaling $270.