LAKEWOOD, N.J. (AP) — Federal prosecutors say that when a Jewish woman wanted to divorce an unwilling husband, Mendel Epstein was the rabbi who could gather a kidnap team to make it happen.
Prosecutors say the Orthodox rabbi was recorded telling two undercover FBI agents that it would cost at least $50,000 to carry out a kidnapping. Authorities say the men brought surgical blades, a screwdriver and rope to a staged kidnapping in 2013.
Epstein's trial starts Wednesday in federal court in New Jersey. Several co-defendants have pleaded guilty and others will join him in court this week.
No one answered the door at Epstein's home in Lakewood, where more than 60,000 Orthodox Jews reside.
His lawyer disputes the charges.