Brooklyn Man Admits Traveling to New Jersey to Violently Extort Divorce Consent from Reluctant Husband
|U.S. Attorney’s Office March 06, 2014|
TRENTON, NJ—A Brooklyn, New York man admitted today in Trenton federal court to traveling to New Jersey in order to coerce a Jewish man to give his wife a religious divorce—referred to as a “get”—through threats of violence, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
David Hellman, 31, a personal trainer, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Freda L. Wolfson to an information charging him with traveling in interstate commerce to commit extortion. His bail conditions include a $500,000 bond and GPS monitoring.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
On October 9, 2013, Hellman and a group of conspirators—including Jay Goldstein, 59; Moshe Goldstein, 31; Avrohom Goldstein, 34; 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 man to give his wife a “get,” a divorce document which, according to Jewish Law, must be presented by a husband to his wife to effect their divorce.
Hellman admitted that when he 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. Hellman 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. Hellman is the first defendant to plead guilty; the charges against the alleged conspirators remain pending. All of the defendants reside in Brooklyn, except Potash and Wolmark, who live in Monsey, New York.
During his guilty plea proceeding, Hellman also admitted that on August 22, 2011, he 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 12, 2014.
Hellman faces 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 today’s guilty plea. 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.