Two set for federal trial in Israeli cosmetics case

Simon Sabag, Dani Chriqui (Photos: Western Tidewater Regional Jail)

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) – Two more defendants will go to trial on federal charges in connection with a cosmetics business that brought Israelis to the U.S. illegally to sell the products in local shopping malls.

Simon Sabag, 38, and Dani Chriqui, 37 are charged with money laundering. They appeared in federal court Thursday afternoon before Judge Douglas Miller. He set their trial date for September 12.

According to an indictment, Sabag and Chriqui were involved in a larger operation that brought young Israeli men and women to Virginia and six other states to sell skin care and cosmetics. The products were said to have salt and other ingredients from the Dead Sea.

The items had brand names of Rasko, Stanga, Venus and Gaya, and were sold locally out of kiosks at Lynnhaven, MacArthur and Patrick Henry malls at various times between 2007 and 2016.

The government says the operation leased apartments in Virginia Beach, held training sessions at an Oceanfront hotel, and traveled to Las Vegas for company conventions. Prosecutors say at least 240 Israelis came to the United States to work on B-2 tourist visas, which is illegal.

Nine people have already pleaded guilty in the case, with the head of the company, Omer Gur Geyer, getting six and a half years in prison.