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FBI: Orthodox Jewish men were kidnapped, tortured in dispute over divorce, report says

FBI raids a Rockland County Yeshiva in an investigation of violent crimes against divorcing Jewish men. CBS New York

The FBI raided this Rockland County Yeshiva in an investigation of alleged violent crimes to force Orthodox Jewish men to divorce their wives
CBS New York
(CBS) NEW YORK - FBI agents raided several locations overnight in an investigation into a series of violent crimes against Orthodox Jewish men involved in religious divorces from their wives, according to CBS New York.

Mendel Epstein, Martin Wolmark, Ariel Potash and Fnu Lnu were reportedly arrested after the FBI raided Yeshiva Shaarei Torah in Suffern, N.Y., the home of a rabbi in Brooklyn and at least one more location in New Jersey.

The station reports a criminal complaint says the women who wanted to divorce their husbands would hire "tough guys," with approval from rabbis, to beat up their husbands and force them to consent them to divorce.

Ten other people were also taken into custody, according to the station.

The complaint states that according to Jewish law, a husband must provide his wife with a document known as a "get" in order for her to get a divorce, a process that only a husband can initiate.

In an undercover investigation by the FBI, Wolmark linked the undercover agents to Epstein in New Jersey. Epstein allegedly said in a conversation, "Basically what were are going to be doing is kidnapping a guy for a couple of hours and beating him up and torturing him and then getting him to give the 'get.'"

He said the they would hire "tough guys" who would use "electric cattle prods, karate, handcuffs and place plastic bags over the heads of husbands."

Authorities reportedly said Epstein commits a kidnapping every year to year and a half.

The kidnapping would cost $10,000 for the approval of a rabbi and $60,000 to $70,000 for the "tough guys" they would hire.

Lnu and Potash would reportedly assist Epstein in the kidnappings.

Details on the additional people who were taken into custody have not been released.

An investigation is ongoing.


  • Iris Carreras

    Iris Carreras covers crime for CBSNews.com

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