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March 06, 2014

Member Of Haredi Divorce Kidnap-Extortion Ring Pleads Guilty

Haredi handcuffs black suit 2David Hellman, 31, a personal trainer, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Freda L. Wolfson to an information charging him with traveling in interstate commerce to commit extortion. His bail conditions include a $500,000 bond and GPS monitoring.

 

Brooklyn, N.Y., Man Admits Traveling to New Jersey to Violently Extort Divorce Consent From Reluctant Husband

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 6, 2014

TRENTON, N.J. - A Brooklyn, N.Y., man admitted today in Trenton federal court to traveling to New Jersey in order to coerce a Jewish man to give his wife a religious divorce – referred to as a “get” – through threats of violence, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

David Hellman, 31, a personal trainer, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Freda L. Wolfson to an information charging him with traveling in interstate commerce to commit extortion. His bail conditions include a $500,000 bond and GPS monitoring.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

On Oct. 9, 2013, Hellman and a group of conspirators – including Jay Goldstein, 59, Moshe Goldstein, 31, Avrohom Goldstein, 34, Simcha Bulmash, 30, Ariel Potash, 40, Binyamin Stimler, 38, and Sholom Shuchat, 29 – traveled from New York to a warehouse in Edison, N.J., with the intent of forcing a Jewish man to give his wife a “get,” a divorce document which, according to Jewish Law, must be presented by a husband to his wife to effect their divorce.

Hellman admitted that when he arrived at the warehouse, the group met with an individual who, unbeknownst to them, was an undercover FBI agent posing as the husband’s brother in law. Hellman admitted that they discussed a plan and prepared to confine, restrain and threaten the victim. 

The group was then arrested by a team of FBI agents and charged by criminal complaint – along with rabbis Mendel Epstein, 68, and Martin Wolmark, 55 – in connection with the scheme. Hellman is the first defendant to plead guilty; the charges against the alleged conspirators remain pending. All of the defendants reside in Brooklyn, except Potash and Wolmark, who live in Monsey, N.Y.

During his guilty plea proceeding, Hellman also admitted that on Aug. 22, 2011, he and others went to a residence in Brooklyn where they restrained, assaulted and injured a man in an attempt to extort a divorce from him. That conduct will be considered by the court during sentencing, currently scheduled for June 12, 2014.

Hellman faces a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford in Newark, for the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea. He also thanked the Lakewood, N.J., Police Department for their role.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys R. Joseph Gribko and Sarah Wolfe of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Trenton.

The pending charges and allegations against related defendants are merely allegations, and they are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.

[Hat Tip: The Lion.]

Comments

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Although their methods were extreme, there is a desperate need to help these women who are stuck between a 'rock and a hard place'. The civil laws don't help and there is no effective way to coerce these wayward husbands to do the right thing'. Hence, Mendel Epstein and crew.

Rodin, you are not seriously justifying this extortion and torture ring, are you?

Yes, the issue of agunot is a serious one, but it is not one the civil courts have any business dealing with (with one important exception). The way to deal with this is by changing Jewish law. And if you tell me that cannot be done, then don't complain about civil law's inability to deal with the issue of agunot.

The one exception, of course, is when the married couple invites the civil law into their relationship by way of a prenup that requires a get in order to effect a civil divorce. All MO couples get one of these prenups these days, and they should become more common in the Haredi community as well. The reason they are not used in Haredi circles are up for discussion, but it is hard to not have the impression that it is done to maintain control over the woman.

But please don't justify beatings and extortion by complaining that civil law does not provide a remedy. Civil law does provide remedies; it is religious law that is the obstacle here.

He flipped.

Kudos, well done to plead guilty and put the master-minders under the bus, whom are really guilty.

He who flips first, flips last.

Jason - the issue of agunot through get refusal is exactly what should be the business of civil courts. It undermines the purpose of US Divorce law.

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