Crime

Four N.J. Rabbis Charged With Kidnapping, Forcing Jewish Men To Divorce Wives

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht

Four New Jersey rabbis were indicted on kidnapping charges after allegedly picking up Jewish men and torturing them until they agreed to divorce their unhappy wives.

The rabbis, Mendel Epstein, Martin Wolmark, Binyamin Stimler and Jay Goldstein, were indicted by a federal grand jury on Thursday. From 2009 to 2013, they allegedly kidnapped or attempted to kidnap several Jewish men, beating them until they agreed to divorce their spouses and split their assets fairly, according to the indictment filed in New Jersey federal court by U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman.

Orthodox Jewish women cannot secure a divorce without the consent of their husband through a document called a “get,” Yahoo reported. The kidnappings occurred in response to “get abuse,” in which husbands were demanding the majority of the couple’s property.

Undercover FBI agents met with Epstein and Wolmark at their home to arrange a get. A kidnapping, they said, would require $10,000 paid to a rabbinical court and another $60,000 for the “tough guys” who would rough up the husband, according to court papers.

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During a subsequent sting, FBI agents went to a New Jersey warehouse with Goldstein and Stimler, where a kidnapped man was to be tortured. Rabbis wore Halloween masks and bandanas and carried rope, screwdrivers and surgical blades, the indictment states.

The men face up to life in prison and a $250,000 fine for each kidnapping.

Rabbi Epstein’s son, David Epstein, was the fifth man named in the indictment Thursday, according to the New York Daily News. Four others are facing charges, including Rabbi Goldstein’s sons Avrohom Goldstein, 34, and Moshe Goldstein, 31. Both pleaded guilty to their involvement in the kidnapping ring in March.

Sources: Yahoo!, New York Daily News