A New Jersey husband and wife whose testimony helped convict the leader of a ring that violently pressured husbands to provide Jewish divorces were sentenced for their own roles in the group’s crimes.
David and Judy Wax of Lakewood were both sentenced in federal court in Trenton, New Jersey Tuesday for assisting in a kidnapping, the Asbury Park Press reported.
US District Judge Freda L. Wolfson sentenced David Wax, 53, to seven years in federal prison for luring a recalcitrant husband to his home, where the man was blindfolded, physically restrained and tortured until he agreed to give his wife a divorce. Wax’s wife, Judy, 51, was sentenced to two years of probation for hiding her husband’s involvement.
According to Jewish law, a Jewish woman cannot remarry without receiving a Jewish divorce, or get, from her husband. Women who are trapped in such marriages are called agunot, or chained women.
The Waxes testified against Rabbi Mendel Epstein, the leader of the divorce ring, which was busted in a FBI sting in 2013. Ten members of the ring, including three Orthodox rabbis, were sentenced in 2015.
Judy Wax admitted she and her husband had replaced a blood-soaked carpet in their home to conceal a kidnapping and said she had knowingly refrained from reporting the kidnapping to the police.
According to Epstein’s indictment, the rabbi’s team would use brutal methods, including martial arts beatings, handcuffs and electric cattle prods, to torture men into granting divorces.
Speaking at his own sentencing last month, Epstein said he was “embarrassed and ashamed” at what he said in those conversations, and insisted he had been motivated not by money but by compassion for the women he represented. He was given a 10-year prison sentence.