Rabbi Mendel Epstein of Lakewood is sentenced to 10 years in a federal prison for his role in a plan to force reluctant Jewish husbands into granting their wives religious divorces.

Townsquare Digital
Townsquare Digital

A co-defendant, Rabbi Binyamin Stimler, 40, of Brooklyn, was sentenced to 30 months, according to the office of New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman. Both were convicted in April for conspiracy to commit kidnapping.

Epstein reportedly would be required to serve eight and a half years before parole eligibility. Both will be required to report to parole officers for five years after release.

The sentences delivered Tuesday leave only one remaining, scheduled Wednesday for Jay Goldstein of Brooklyn, convicted of attempted kidnapping and kidnapping conspiracy. Seven others have been sentenced.

According to investigators, on December 1, 2009, Israel Markowitz was thrown into a van, bound, beaten and shocked with a stun gun until he agreed to grant a "get" to his wife.

The following October 10, again in Lakewood, Ysrael Bryskman was bound and beaten until also agreeing to divorce, authorities said.

In Brooklyn, on August 22, 2011, Usher Chaimowitz and his roommate, Menachem Teitelbaum, were also bound and beaten in order to extract a divorce from Chaimowitz, investigators said.

The incidents sparked an FBI undercover probe. Agents acting as a wife and her brother recorded calls and personal visits with Epstein, in which he arranged to abduct the "husband" into a warehouse for $60,000.

The defendants, traveling from Brooklyn and Monsey, NY, met in an Edison warehouse at about 8 PM on October 9, 2013, to map out the abduction, authorities said, clad in disguises and bearing nylon rope, vodka, a blindfold, substitute license plates, and items for ceremonially recording the get.

Law enforcement moved in at about 8:23 PM. Eight were arrested on site. Epstein was apprehended at his Brooklyn home.

He reportedly won the judge's consent to surrender to authorities March 1.

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