Israel-based rabbi Aharon Goldberg, 55, and Shimen Liebowitz,
25, were taken into custody in Central Valley, New York, while
meeting to discuss the plot on Tuesday, the Manhattan U.S.
Attorney's Office said in a statement.
The statement said they were charged with one count each of
conspiracy to commit kidnapping, which carries a maximum
sentence of life in prison, and conspiracy to commit murder for
Xavier Donaldson, an attorney for Goldberg, declined to comment
when reached by email on Wednesday night. An attorney for
Liebowitz, who prosecutors said is a member of Satmar Hasidic
community in Kiryas Joel, New York, could not be immediately
reached for comment.
Prosecutors said Liebowitz and Goldberg recruited an individual
to carry out the crimes and force the man to issue a document
called a "get" to allow his wife to divorce him.
An Orthodox Jewish woman cannot get a religious divorce unless
her husband consents through a get, according to prosecutors.
Without the document, a divorce can only occur if the husband
Prosecutors said the recruit contacted the Federal Bureau of
Investigation in July about the plot and began recording their
The group discussed kidnapping, torturing and forcing the get
from the target while the intended victim was in the United
States or on a planned trip to Ukraine, prosecutors said. As the
plotting continued, the group decided they wanted the victim
murdered as well, prosecutors allege.
In total, the pair paid the informant around $60,000 to carry
out the kidnapping and murder.
(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Andrew
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