PRINT PAGEJeweler Cleared of Money Laundering

A federal jury took four hours to clear a Miami jewelry supplier and his sales manager of charges they laundered more than $8 million in cocaine profits for Colombian drug lords.

After Thursday's verdicts, jurors emerged from the Miami courthouse to find the defendant, his family and members of his Bal Harbour synagogue rejoicing and dancing on the courthouse steps. They joined in with warm embraces.

"It was sweet," said defense attorney Howard Srebnick.

Two defendants were accused in an indictment last year of meeting with two dozen cocaine traffickers who exchanged drug money for gold, exporting it to Colombia.

Our client took over the jewelry store after the 1987 death of his grandfather, a Jewish watchmaker who emigrated from Hungary to Havana to Miami. The jewelry supply business, one of the nation's largest, also was acquitted of money laundering charges.

The acquittals capped a three-week trial featuring some of Miami's top criminal defense attorneys, who vigorously attacked the motives and veracity of an undercover Internal Revenue Service operative.

The defense alleged that anti-Semitism drove the investigation, telling jurors that the Defendant was referred to on surveillance tapes as "the Jew." The investigation itself was dubbed "Operation Goldstar," which defense attorneys said rekindled memories of how the Nazis forced Jews to wear gold stars.

[edited for privacy issues]


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