Two Brooklyn Men Sentenced to Prison in Jewish Divorce Extortion Ring

The men were co-conspirators in a group that used violence and threats to pressure recalcitrant husbands into granting their wives a Jewish religious divorce, known as a 'get.'

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"Marriage is not a prison": A religious couple walks by a demonstrator protesting Jewish religious divorce policy in Jerusalem.
"Marriage is not a prison": A religious couple walks by a demonstrator protesting Jewish religious divorce policy in Jerusalem.Credit: Alex Levak
JTA
JTA

Two more Brooklyn men were sentenced to prison in a federal case against a group that used violence and threats to pressure husbands into granting Jewish divorces to estranged wives.

One day after Moshe Goldstein, 32, was sentenced to four years in prison in a New Jersey federal court, David Hellman, 33, and Simcha Bulmash, 32, were sentenced to 44 months and 48 months respectively, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced Tuesday in a statement.

All three defendants, who were arrested in 2013 in an FBI sting operation, pleaded guilty to various charges.

According to the statement, which cited court records, Hellman, Bulmash and a group of co-conspirators traveled in October 2013 from New York to a warehouse in Edison, New Jersey, with the intent of forcing a Jewish husband to give his wife a “get,” or a Jewish religious divorce.

An Orthodox woman cannot remarry without receiving a “get” from her husband. The women who are trapped in such marriages are called agunot, or “chained women.”

Two Orthodox rabbis, Mendel Epstein, 70, of Lakewood, New Jersey, and Martin Wolmark, 57, of Monsey, New York, were also charged in the scheme.

In addition to the prison term, both Hellman and Bulmash were sentenced to two years of supervised release.

Three more defendants in the scheme — Avrohom Goldstein,36; Ariel Potash, 42; and Sholom Shuchat, 31, are scheduled for sentencing on Thursday, while the remaining defendants will be sentenced in December, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

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