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Orthodox Jewish Rabbis Sentenced In Religious Divorce Plot

TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- Two Orthodox Jewish rabbis were sentenced to prison Tuesday for their involvement in a plot to kidnap Jewish men in an effort to coerce them into granting their wives religious divorces.

Rabbi Mendel Epstein, 70, of Lakewood N.J. was sentenced to 10 years in prison and Rabbi Binyamin Stimler, 40, of Brooklyn, received three years and three months, according to U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman.

Epstein was convicted of conspiracy to commit kidnapping in April. Stimler was also convicted on the same charge, as well as attempted kidnapping.

The men were arrested along with eight others after the FBI raided several locations in October 2013, including Yeshiva Shaarei Torah in Suffern, a home in Brooklyn and at least one other location in New Jersey.

The initial investigation stemmed from four incidents occurring between 2009 and 2013.

Prosecutors said the team used brutal methods, including handcuffs and electric cattle prods, to torture men into granting religious divorces.

Jewish law mandates that a husband present his wife with a document, known as a "get," to make divorce official.

In November, Avrohom Goldstein, of Brooklyn, was sentenced to three years and nine months in prison. Ariel Potash, of Monsey, New York, got a sentence of one year and two months, and Sholom Schuchat, of Brooklyn, was sentenced to time served. Moshe Goldstein, 32, of Brooklyn, was also sentenced to four years in prison.

The New Jersey District Attorny's office said Jay Goldstein, who was convicted of conspiracy to commit kidnapping and attempted kidnapping, is scheduled to be sentenced this week.

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