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Press Release

Two Brooklyn, New York, Men Sentenced To Prison For Traveling To New Jersey To Violently Extort Divorce Consent From Recalcitrant Husband

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Jersey

TRENTON, N.J. – Two Brooklyn, New York, men were each sentenced today to more than three and a half years in prison for crossing state lines as part of a plan to violently coerce a recalcitrant husband to grant his wife a religious divorce, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

David Hellman, 33, and Simcha Bulmash, 32, were sentenced to 44 and 48 months in prison, respectively. Both defendants previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Freda L. Wolfson to separate informations charging them each with one count of traveling in interstate commerce to commit extortion. Judge Wolfson imposed both sentences today in Trenton federal court.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

On Oct. 9, 2013, Hellman, Bulmash and a group of conspirators – including Avrohom Goldstein, 36, Moshe Goldstein, 32, Jay Goldstein, 61, Binyamin Stimler, 40, Sholom Shuchat, 31, all of Brooklyn, and Ariel Potash, 42, of Monsey, New York – traveled from New York to a warehouse in Edison, New Jersey, with the intent of forcing a Jewish husband to give his wife a “get,” a document which, according to Jewish Law, must be presented by a husband to his wife to effect their divorce.

Hellman and Bulmash admitted that when they arrived at the warehouse, the group met with an individual who, unbeknownst to them, was an undercover FBI agent posing as the husband’s brother in law. Hellman and Bulmash admitted that they discussed a plan and prepared to confine, restrain and threaten the victim. 

The group was then arrested by a team of FBI agents and charged by criminal complaint – along with rabbis Mendel Epstein, 70, of Lakewood, New Jersey, and Martin Wolmark, 57, of Monsey – in connection with the scheme.

Hellman and Bulmash also admitted that on Aug. 22, 2011, they went to a residence in Brooklyn where they restrained, assaulted and injured another recalcitrant husband and his roommate in an attempt to extort a divorce from the husband.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Wolfson sentenced both Hellman and Bulmash to serve two years of supervised release.

Avrohom Goldstein, Moshe Goldstein, Potash and Shuchat each pleaded guilty to one count of traveling in interstate commerce to commit extortion. Moshe Goldstein was sentenced yesterday to four years in prison. Avrohom Goldstein, Potash and Shuchat are scheduled for sentencing Nov. 19, 2015. Wolmark, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to travel in interstate commerce to commit extortion, is scheduled for sentencing on Dec. 14, 2015.

Epstein, Jay Goldstein and Stimler were all convicted at trial on April 21, 2015. Epstein, who was convicted of conspiracy to commit kidnapping, is scheduled for sentencing on Dec. 15, 2015. Stimler and Jay Goldstein, both convicted of conspiracy to commit kidnapping and attempted kidnapping, are scheduled for sentencing on Dec. 15, 2015 and Dec. 16, 2015, respectively.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Richard M. Frankel in Newark, for the investigation leading to today’s sentencing. He also thanked the Lakewood, New Jersey, Police Department for its role.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys R. Joseph Gribko and Sarah Wolfe of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Trenton.

Defense counsel:

Hellman: Michael Bachner Esq., New York

Bulmash: Robert C. Gottlieb Esq., New York

Updated November 17, 2015

Press Release Number: 15-420