2 rabbis, 8 others jailed in NJ, NY divorce sting

Thursday - 10/10/2013, 6:30pm EDT

Associated Press

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -- A judge in New Jersey has ordered two rabbis and eight associates held in federal custody after being accused of plotting to kidnap and torture a man to force him to grant a religious divorce.

Rabbis Mendel Epstein and Martin Wolmark, four alleged enforcers and four other associates all appeared in federal court in Trenton on Thursday.

They were arrested in a federal sting that took place in New Jersey and New York. The woman who sought the rabbis' help was actually an FBI agent.

A federal prosecutor says the organization involved in the alleged plot was responsible for up to 20 kidnappings over the years -- and that money, not religion, was the true motive.

Neither of the rabbis' lawyers spoke at the hearing and no pleas were entered.

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