The Brooklyn rabbis busted by the feds for allegedly assembling a crew of henchmen to kidnap and torture a husband into granting his wife a divorce were investigated for similar allegations in the late 1990s, but no charges were filed, the Daily News has learned.
Rabbi Abraham Rubin filed a civil racketeering lawsuit in 1997 claiming Rabbi Mendel Epstein and his kidnap crew tortured him, beating him and shocking his genitals with an electric stun gun, in an attempt to force him to give his wife a divorce, or “get” in Jewish law, Newsday reported at the time.
That lawsuit was dropped in 2000, records show, and the Brooklyn District Attorney declined to press criminal charges because Rubin “was unable to identify any of the defendants,” a spokesperson told the Daily News.
Dr. Monty Weinstein, who works in family therapy, said he’s heard stories about Epstein’s non-kosher tactics over the past few decades, but that his complaints always fell on deaf ears.
“What bothered me is that the police and courts didn’t care,” said Weinstein.
Federal prosecutors who brought charges against Epstein, 68, on Thursday said they have the Brooklyn rabbi on tape bragging he has forced “gets” every year or so for some 30 years, even zapping hardheaded husbands with a cattle prod if they relented.
Federal prosecutors who brought charges against Epstein say they have the Brooklyn rabbi on tape bragging about forcing divorces, or 'gets,' every year or so for 30 years. Here, FBI agents leave the Brooklyn residence of Epstein during an investigation on Thursday.
Rabbi Martin Wolmark, 55, of Monsey, Rockland County, who was also named in the 1997 lawsuit, and eight others were part of the shocking takedown that elicited defenders from their insular Orthodox community.
“When no one could get ladies freed from their husbands, they came to him,” said Sam Grossman, 71, who lives down the block from the Rubin’s Kensington home.
Two of the accused henchmen volunteered at Our Place, an organization that assists at-risk Jewish youngsters, said director Sony Perlman.
An FBI agent stands guard as evidence sits in the trunk of a vehicle at Epstein's Brooklyn residence on Thursday.
Defendant Simcha Bulmash would donate his time giving free guitar lessons and Moses Goldstein ran fitness classes. Perlman also used to refer people to Binyamin Stimler, a therapist.
“If this is true, I’m surprised,” said Perlman, an organization that assists at-risk Jewish youngsters, who worked with three of the accused. “They devote their lives to helping people.”
They are among the eight men arrested while lying in wait at a New Jersey warehouse, allegedly armed with rope, surgical blades, a screwdriver and plastic bags.
One man was wearing a garbage bag over his clothing as they discussed their unholy plan “to grab the husband, pull him down, tie him up and take his phone,” court papers say.
The crew charged $60,000 for their muscle from a desperate woman who said her marriage was broken — but she was actually and undercover agent.