TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey rabbi and his wife surrendered to the FBI Monday on charges they abducted an Israeli man, beat him and threatened to bury him alive if he didn't give his wife a religious divorce.
The case against David and Judy Wax in U.S. federal court marks a strange twist in a chain of events that started with a divorce dispute in Israel's Rabbinical Court over the victim's refusal to give his wife a "get," an Orthodox Jewish divorce document permitting a wife to remarry.
The victim, who is not identified in court documents, apparently fled Israel after refusing to grant a divorce. Israeli media reports at the time said the Rabbinical Court had shunned him and put him on a wanted list, and appeals for his whereabouts appeared in religious publications.
A call placed after-hours to the Rabbinical Court in Jerusalem was not immediately returned.
According to the FBI complaint, the victim was lured to the Wax home to discuss opportunities for the victim to work on a book the rabbi was writing about the Talmud. Once in the home, the victim was allegedly bound, robbed, shown a body bag and told he'd be buried alive in Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains if he didn't agree to the divorce.
David Wax is also accused of threatening to have the victim's father killed if he didn't pay the wife $100,000.
'He has no history of any type of criminal behaviors or violent behaviors. He's the father of eight children," Mitchell Ansell, David Wax's attorney, told The Associated Press. "We're confident that when all the facts are made public, he'll be cleared of these charges and his good and honorable name will be restored."
An attorney for Judy Wax said she would plead not guilty Monday in federal court.
Reach Josh Lederman at http://www.twitter.com/joshledermanAP.