TRENTON — A Lakewood couple involved in a bizarre kidnapping of an Orthodox Jewish man were sentenced on Tuesday for their roles in forcing the man to agree to give his wife a religious divorce.
David and Judy Wax were the last of a dozen defendants to be sentenced in an odd case that uncovered a scheme concocted by a respected rabbi to kidnap and beat husbands until they agreed to give their estranged wives the religious divorce decrees they needed to get on with their lives.
U.S. District Judge Freda Wolfson in Trenton sentenced David Wax, 53, to eight years in prison for the strange kidnapping and beating case of one of those husbands.
His wife, Judy Wax, 51, who played a lesser role in the 2010 incident, was sentenced to two years of probation.
David Wax could have been sentenced to life in prison.
In the 2015 trial of Rabbi Mendel Epstein, David Wax testified for nearly four days about his role in the kidnapping and beating of Yisrael Bryskman, an Israeli national living in Brooklyn in 2010 to avoid giving his wife a religious divorce, known as a “get.”
And Bryskman also testified during that trial, telling jurors he was lured to Wax’s Lakewood home on the promise of a job writing for some Talmudic books Wax was publishing. Arriving there in the last minutes of Oct. 16, 2010, Bryskman was led to an upstairs bedroom – which also served as Wax’s office – and ambushed.
He told jurors he was blindfolded, his hands cuffed behind his back and his legs bound at the ankles before he was beaten and kicked by several men, including Wax, who donned a white cowboy hat during the attack.
Wax, who pleaded guilty in 2014 to conspiracy to commit kidnapping, admitted he beat Bryskman, took him on a cab ride to get money from Bryskman’s bank account, and tried to extort money from Bryskman’s father in Israel after the three-hour beating.
Bryskman said Wax wanted him to withdraw cash from his bank account to pay for Wax to replace the bedroom carpet bloodied in Bryskman’s attack. But Bryskman was so scared that he failed to withdraw the money.
Judy Wax, who pleaded guilty to misprision of a felony, admitted she followed the cab in her black SUV and eventually, with her husband, drove Bryskman back to Brooklyn after offering him a breakfast of bagels or muffins from a bagel shop along the way.
Ignoring the Waxes’ threats against reporting the attack, Bryskman called police, touching off an investigation that eventually led investigators to Epstein.
Epstein, 70, was sentenced last month to 10 years in prison. He, along with nine others, had been charged, convicted and sentenced in the beatings scheme, which ended with an uncover FBI operation at a warehouse in Edison in 2013.