Trial video shows New Jersey rabbi discussing plan to cattle-prod husbands
Prosecutors on Monday played recordings made by undercover agents who met a New Jersey rabbi who is on trial for allegedly using brutal tactics to force unwilling Jewish husbands to divorce their wives.
Rabbi Mendel Epstein is seen on grainy video speaking with two undercover agents who are posing as a brother and sister. They wanted to get the woman a divorce from her unwilling husband.
Epstein is heard saying it would cost at least $60,000 to get the “tough guys” to carry out the operation. He also discusses tactics to force the husband’s hand, including kidnapping him and using cattle prods and karate.
Epstein faces charges of conspiracy to commit kidnapping and attempted kidnapping with his son and two other Orthodox rabbis. His attorney does not dispute the acts were committed but says they do not rise to the level of federal kidnapping charges.
Sitting across from the FBI agents at his Lakewood home on 14 August 2013, Epstein is heard telling the agents that the “tough guys” would be “beating him up and torturing him and then getting him to give” the divorce.
Epstein says his tactics “have never not worked” and notes that he had carried out similar operations every year to year and a half.
During the meeting, Epstein told the agents he was previously a mediator in disputes with the mafia. The gangsters, he said, would clean guns in front of him to intimidate him.
“But they’re not going to shoot me because I’m the golden goose,” he said.