TRENTON, N.J. (RNS) Two brothers have admitted to playing roles in a bizarre plot to kidnap, beat and torture a recalcitrant Orthodox Jewish husband to convince him to give his wife a religious divorce, authorities said.
The plan, which authorities said was halted with the arrests of the alleged conspirators, allegedly involved talk of potentially using handcuffs, knives, stun guns and electric cattle prods to coerce the victim to grant a “get,” a document that, according to Jewish law, must be presented by a husband to his wife to effect their divorce.
Avrohom Goldstein, 34, and Moshe Goldstein, 31, both of Brooklyn, separately pleaded guilty this week before U.S. District Judge Freda Wolfson to traveling in interstate commerce to commit extortion, authorities said. Both men face up to 20 years in prison when they are sentenced in June, authorities said.
Neither of their defense attorneys could be reached for comment.
Authorities, citing case documents and court statements, said that on Oct. 9 of last year, Moshe Goldstein, Avrohom Goldstein and six other conspirators traveled from New York to a warehouse in Edison, N.J., with a plan of forcing a Jewish husband to give his wife a “get.”
In court this week, the two men admitted that when they arrived at the warehouse, the group met with a person who was an undercover FBI agent posing as the husband’s brother in law, authorities said. The brothers then discussed a plan and prepared to restrain and threaten the victim, U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said.
The group of eight conspirators were arrested by FBI agents and charged in connection with the plot. Also arrested at their homes were rabbis Mendel Epstein, 68, of Brooklyn, N.Y., and Martin Wolmark, 55, of Monsey, N.Y.
Moshe and Avrohom Goldstein have also admitted that on Aug. 22, 2011, they and others went to a Brooklyn residence where they restrained, assaulted and injured a man in an attempt to coerce a divorce from him. That admission will be considered in their sentencings, authorities said. One other defendant in the alleged plot pleaded guilty this month, authorities said: David Hellman, 31, of Brooklyn. The other defendants’ cases are pending.
(Jason Grant writes for The Star-Ledger in Newark, N.J.)
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Video courtesy of The Star-Ledger