In Manhattan federal court yesterday, Shaya “Alex” Lichtenstein pleaded not guilty to the bribery charge. Lichtenstein, who volunteers with the Shomrim in Borough Park, Brooklyn, is accused of attempting to purchase $900,000 worth of permits—enough for 150 guns at six grand each—which he would use to arm the security group.
The Shomrim patrol Brooklyn’s Hasidic enclaves, responding to residents’ distress calls and making citizens’ arrests of petty criminals. They have also been criticized for withholding information about child sex abusers and other evidence of crimes from police. Shomrim officers are ostensibly unarmed, and after Lichtenstein’s arrest, the city government froze its various contracts with and grants to the group.