(JTA) – A Hasidic man with Israeli citizenship who works as a divorce mediator in New York was the third man arrested and charged in a plot to kidnap a man who refused to give his wife a religious divorce.
FBI officials arrested Binyamin Gottlieb, 33, on Sunday as he attempted to board a plane for Ukraine. The ticket was purchased following the arrests of the other two suspects in the plot, the Forward reported.
Gottlieb, who lives in Monsey, New York, was denied bail in court on Monday, when he was charged with conspiracy to commit kidnapping.
Several days earlier, charges were announced against Rabbi Aharon Goldberg, 55, and Shimen Liebowitz, 25, in federal court in Manhattan. They were also charged with kidnapping charge, as well as conspiracy to commit murder for hire.
Though Goldberg is based in Israel, both men are said to be prominent members of the Kiryas Joel Satmar Hasidic community in upstate New York.
Goldberg and Liebowitz allegedly recruited an unnamed man and paid him more than $55,000 first to kidnap and then to murder the recalcitrant husband.
Gottlieb has admitted that he had attended a meeting at which the alleged kidnapping plot was discussed, and that he had delivered $25,000 to the recruited hitman, according to court documents seen by the Forward.
The paid hitman contacted the FBI in early July to report that he had been recruited to kidnap the recalcitrant husband in order to torture him and force him to issue a “get,” a religious Jewish divorce, to his wife. The kidnapping would take place either in Pennsylvania or in Uman, Ukraine, where the husband was scheduled to travel to celebrate Rosh Hashanah.
Later meetings and conversations, in which the rabbi discussed the possibility of also killing the intended victim, identified as a taxi driver, were recorded by the co-operating hitman. In a final conversation in September, the rabbi told the hitman he also wanted the husband killed.
Conspiracy to commit kidnapping carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.