FBI Nails Rabbi Kidnappers-for-Hire

Rabbis teach. Rabbis counsel. Rabbis lead. Rabbis support. Rabbis... kidnap and, uh, torture?

At least, two of them do, according to the F.B.I., which arrested Martin Wolmark and Mendel Epstein on Wednesday night and accused them of—for a price—kidnapping and torturing men with the intent of forcing them to agree to divorces. The New York Times has more:

In some Orthodox Jewish communities, a divorce is granted only once a husband provides his wife with a document known as a get. And stories of the frustrations and obstacles that women face in their quest to obtain a get are commonplace. While a woman can sue in rabbinical court to try to secure a get, some husbands do not comply with the court’s edict.

That, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, is where the rabbis came in. “You need special rabbis who are going to take this thing and see it through to the end,” Rabbi Wolmark said in a recorded telephone conversation with an undercover F.B.I. agent posing as a woman whose husband would not grant her a get.

As felonies go, honestly, this doesn't sound so bad? Wolmark and Epstein—and a third man, Ariel Potash, also arrested—apparently charged $60,000 for the service ($10,000 for the decree, the balance for the kidnapping), and claimed to pull off one every 18 months.

[photo, of evidence being removed from Epstein's house, via AP]