An upstate rabbi was sentenced to more than three years in prison on Monday, for his involvement in a longstanding extortion ring that facilitated the kidnapping and torture of ultra-Orthodox Jewish men unwilling to grant their wives a ritual divorce.
— News12HV (@News12HV) December 15, 2015
Rabbi Martin Wolmark, 57, pled guilty to conspiracy to commit extortion in January. Following today's sentencing, he'll also serve two years of post-release supervision and pay a $50,000 fine, according to the Advance.
Allegations were first put forward in the fall of 2013 that Wolmark, along with Rabbi Mendel Epstein and a group of associates, facilitated the torture of husbands. The husband-victims were pressured to agree to a "get," or ritual consent to divorce.
In the lead-up to these accusations, undercover FBI agents posed as divorce-desperate wives, recording multiple incriminating telephone conversations with Epstein and Wolmark.
During one conversation, Wolmark assured an undercover agent that Epstein could get her husband to agree to a get if he could be lured to New York from Argentina, where the agent said he was living. Epstein and associates would "harass or nail" the husband, Wolmark assured. The service, carried out by "tough guys," would cost $30,000.
"Basically what we 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," Epstein, who was also well known in the Orthodox community as a divorce mediator, allegedly said in another conversation with undercovers. "We will take an electric cattle prod [and] put it in certain parts of his body and in one minute the guy will know."
FBI agents ultimately accused Wolmark and Epstein of orchestrating about 20 kidnappings.
Epstein is scheduled for sentencing this week.