Gonif is a Hebrew/Yiddish word, often used in English; particularly in southern California and New Yawk where many reside, indeed thrive. There is no exact English equivalent word; `operator' is maybe the closest. A gonif operates on the shadowy borders of illegality and/or impropriety, and gets away with it, and is not quite an outright crook. The word seems to combine proper moral disapproval with sneaking admiration. Reference: 'The Joys of Yiddish,' by Leo Rosten.
At Cell 2 Soul, we propose a Gonif Award for prestigious physicians and "scientists" who have done very well (for themselves) even if they have not done good (for their patients). Many of these paragons hold prestigious positions at some of our stellar institutions. Recently, gonifs have been exposed at Harvard, Stanford and Emory -- but most, probably all, medical schools have their own tenured gonifs.
The first C2S Gonif Award goes to Dr. Charles B. Nemeroff, "one of the nation’s most influential psychiatrists who earned more than $2.8 million in consulting arrangements with drug makers from 2000 to 2007, failed to report at least $1.2 million of that income to his university and violated federal research rules, according to documents provided to Congressional investigators. The article in the New York Time is fascinating.
Thomas Browne wrote, "No one should enter the Temple of Science with the soul of a money changer." Browne make have been the Anti-Gonif.