TRENTON, N.J. – An Orthodox Jewish rabbi who led a ring that coerced religious divorces from recalcitrant men has been sentenced in New Jersey to a decade in prison.
Rabbi Mendel Epstein was sentenced Tuesday after being convicted of conspiracy to commit kidnapping in April.
Prosecutors say the team he led used brutal methods and tools, including handcuffs and electric cattle prods, to torture the men into granting so-called gets. Epstein and nine others were caught as part of an undercover sting.
Epstein told District Judge Freda Wolfson that he got caught up in his tough-guy image, which he says helped him persuade men to give their wives the religious divorces. He says he was helping the women out of a sense of compassion because they couldn't remarry without it.
His attorney says he plans to appeal.