U.S. Attorney's Office
District of New Jersey
(973) 645-2888
November 19, 2015

Three New York Men Sentenced for Traveling to New Jersey to Violently Extort Divorce Consent from Recalcitrant Husband

TRENTON, NJ—Three New York men were sentenced today for their roles in a scheme to cross state lines and violently coerce a recalcitrant husband to grant his wife a religious divorce, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Avrohom Goldstein, 36, of Brooklyn, New York, was sentenced to 45 months in prison. Ariel Potash, 42, of Monsey, New York, was sentenced to 14 months in prison. Sholom Shuchat, 31, of Brooklyn, was sentenced to time served. All three defendants previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Freda L. Wolfson to separate informations charging them each with one count of traveling in interstate commerce to commit extortion. Judge Wolfson imposed all three sentences today in Trenton federal court.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

On Oct. 9, 2013, Avrohom Goldstein, Potash, Shuchat and a group of conspirators—including Avrohom’s brother, Moshe Goldstein, 32, his father, Jay Goldstein, 61, David Hellman, 33, Simcha Bulmash, 32, and Binyamin Stimler, 40, all of Brooklyn—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.

Avrohom Goldstein, Potash and Shuchat admitted that when they arrived at the warehouse, the group met with an individual who, unbeknownst to them, was an undercover FBI agent posing as the husband’s brother in law. Avrohom Goldstein and others discussed a plan to confine, restrain and threaten the victim. Shuchat was there to witness and authenticate the get, which Potash would later deliver to the wife.

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.

Avrohom 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 Avrohom Goldstein, Potash, and Shuchat to each serve two years of supervised release.

Moshe Goldstein previously pleaded guilty to one count of traveling in interstate commerce to commit extortion and was sentenced Nov. 16, 2015 to four years in prison. Hellman and Bulmash previously pleaded guilty to one count of traveling in interstate commerce to commit extortion and were sentenced Nov. 17, 2015 to 44 and 48 months in prison, respectively. 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.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Richard M. Frankel in Newark, for the investigation leading to today’s sentencing. He also thanked the Lakewood, New Jersey, Police Department for its role.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys R. Joseph Gribko and Sarah Wolfe of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Trenton.

Defense counsel:

  • Hellman: Michael Bachner Esq., New York
  • Bulmash: Robert C. Gottlieb Esq., New York
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