Divorce cases and other family law disputes are usually handled through the civil court system. Occasionally, however, an issue arises that projects an issue from the divorce courts into the criminal court system. Typically, these cases center around issues such as custodial interference, violation of a protection order, and so on.
Not long ago, however, a rather unique “divorce scheme” case played out in federal court. According to a news report, a total of seven men have either pled guilty to or been found guilty of being involved in a group that used illegal means to coerce certain Jewish men to agree to divorce their wives.
Statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office
According to a statement issued by the United States Attorney’s Office, District of New Jersey, two men from Brooklyn, New York, pled guilty to crossing state lines in order to commit extortion by violently coercing a Jewish husband (who did not wish to grant the divorce) to grant his wife a religious divorce. Several men, ranging in age from 31 to 61, were involved in the plot.
The statement explains that, under Jewish law, a husband must present a “get” to his wife in order for a divorce to be effective. (A “get” is a religious document that is different from the civil law divorce decree that a court may grant regardless of the husband’s wishes. Under Jewish law, only a “get” truly terminates a marital union, thereby freeing the wife to remarry.)
The two men who pled guilty admitted that they had met with a group at a warehouse, including an individual who was posing as a brother-in-law to the intended victim of the crime. In reality, the man was an undercover agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). During the meeting at the warehouse, the men set forth their plan to “confine, restrain, and threaten” the victim. According to the statement, the men will serve more than three and a half years in federal prison for their involvement in the crime.
Others Involved in the Plot
Two rabbis were also arrested in the scheme. One of them, along with two other men, was convicted of conspiracy to commit kidnapping following a jury trial in April 2015. The other rabbi pled guilty to conspiracy to travel in interstate commerce to commit extortion. Other guilty pleas and sentencing hearings are expected later this year.
The FBI gave credit to its special agents and to the Lakewood, New Jersey, Police Department for their role in the convictions.
To Get Advice About a Domestic Relations Matter
While extreme, this case certainly illustrates the point that divorces can get very ugly. If you’re involved in a divorce or other family law case, you should speak to an experienced New Jersey family law lawyer who can advise you of your legal rights and stand beside you during this difficult time. To schedule an appointment with a member of the Goldstein Law Group law firm in Old Bridge or Freehold, New Jersey, call us at 732-967-6777.
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