On Thursday, David Hellmen, a 31-year-old personal trainer from Brooklyn, became the first person to plead guilty to participating in the kidnapping and extortion scheme that targeted Orthodox Jewish men who refused to grant their wives a divorce.
Brian Stauffer Our December cover story on the divorce extortions.
Hellmen was arrested in a New Jersey FBI sting in October 2013. The sting led to charges against ten men, including Mendel Epstein, the rabbi accused of leading the operation. In addition to admitting to the October plan, Hellmen confessed to another incident: "that on Aug. 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," the U.S. Attorney's Office of New Jersey said in a statement.More »