Trenton, NJ – A Brooklyn, New York, man was sentenced today to 48 months in prison for crossing state lines as part of a plan to violently coerce a recalcitrant husband to grant his wife a religious divorce, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Moshe Goldstein, 32, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Freda L. Wolfson to an information charging him with traveling in interstate commerce to commit extortion.
Judge Wolfson imposed the sentence today in Trenton federal court.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
On Oct. 9, 2013, Moshe Goldstein and a group of conspirators – including his brother Avrohom Goldstein, 36, his father, Jay Goldstein, 61, David Hellman, 33, Simcha Bulmash, 32, Binyamin Stimler, 40, Sholom Shuchat, 31, all of Brooklyn, and Ariel Potash, 42, of Monsey, New York – traveled from New York to a warehouse in Edison, New Jersey, with the intent of forcing a Jewish husband to give his wife a “get,” a document which, according to Jewish Law, must be presented by a husband to his wife to effect their divorce.
During his plea hearing, Moshe Goldstein admitted that when he and the other conspirators arrived at the warehouse, they met with an individual who, unbeknownst to them, was an undercover FBI agent posing as the “husband’s” brother in law. They discussed a plan and prepared to confine, restrain and threaten the victim.
The group was then arrested by a team of FBI agents and charged by criminal complaint – along with rabbis Mendel Epstein, 70, of Lakewood, New Jersey, and Martin Wolmark, 57, of Monsey – in connection with the scheme.
Moshe Goldstein also admitted that on Aug. 22, 2011, he and others went to a residence in Brooklyn where they restrained, assaulted and injured another recalcitrant husband and his roommate in an attempt to extort a divorce from the husband.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Wolfson sentenced Moshe Goldstein to serve two years of supervised release.
Avrohom Goldstein, Hellman, Bulmash, Potash and Shuchat each pleaded guilty to one count of traveling in interstate commerce to commit extortion.
Hellman and Bulmash are scheduled for sentencing on Nov. 17, 2015. Avrohom Goldstein, Potash and Shuchat are scheduled for sentencing Nov. 19, 2015. Wolmark, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to travel in interstate commerce to commit extortion, is scheduled for sentencing on Dec. 14, 2015.
Epstein, Jay Goldstein and Stimler were all convicted at trial on April 21, 2015. Epstein, who was convicted of conspiracy to commit kidnapping, is scheduled for sentencing on Dec. 15, 2015. Stimler and Jay Goldstein, both convicted of conspiracy to commit kidnapping and attempted kidnapping, are scheduled for sentencing on Dec. 15, 2015 and Dec. 16, 2015, respectively.