Brooklyn Brothers Admit Traveling to New Jersey to Violently Extort Divorce Consent from Reluctant Husband
|U.S. Attorney’s Office March 11, 2014|
TRENTON, NJ—A pair of Brooklyn brothers have admitted on consecutive days to crossing state lines as part of a plan to violently coerce an unwilling husband to grant his wife a religious divorce, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Avrohom Goldstein, 34, pleaded guilty today to an information charging him with traveling in interstate commerce to commit extortion. Moshe Goldstein, 31, entered his guilty plea March 10, 2014, to the same charge. Both brothers entered their guilty pleas before U.S. District Judge Freda L. Wolfson in Trenton federal court.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
On Oct. 9, 2013, Moshe Goldstein, Avrohom Goldstein, and a group of conspirators—including David Hellman, 31; their father, Jay Goldstein, 59; Simcha Bulmash, 30; Ariel Potash, 40; Binyamin Stimler, 38; and Sholom Shuchat, 29—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 their guilty plea proceedings, Moshe and Avrohom 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. The brothers admitted that 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, 68, and Martin Wolmark, 55—in connection with the scheme. All of the defendants reside in Brooklyn, except Potash and Wolmark, who live in Monsey, New York.
Hellman, the first defendant to plead guilty, admitted the same conduct in Trenton federal court on March 6, 2014; the charges against the alleged conspirators remain pending.
Moshe and Avrohom Goldstein also admitted that on August 22, 2011, they and others went to a residence in Brooklyn where they restrained, assaulted, and injured a man in an attempt to extort a divorce from him. That conduct will be considered by the court during sentencing, currently scheduled for June 16, 2014, for Moshe Goldstein and June 20, 2014, for Avrohom Goldstein. Each brother is bailed on a $500,000 bond and subject to GPS monitoring.
The brothers each face a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford in Newark, for the investigation leading to the guilty pleas. He also thanked the Lakewood (New Jersey) Police Department for their 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.
The pending charges and allegations against related defendants are merely allegations, and they are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.
- Moshe Goldstein: Roger Stavis Esq., New York
- Avrohom Goldstein: Charles Waldron Esq., Lawrenceville, New Jersey