Thursday, October 10, 2013

FBI raids Monsey yeshiva, Shaarei Torah, in divorce-gang probe, Rabbi Mendel Epstein arrested.

Rabbi Mendel Epstein (before his arrest)

The FBI descended late Wednesday on Yeshiva Shaarei Torah in connection with an investigation into a gang that pressured men into giving their wives religious divorces, a law enforcement source told The Journal News.

The FBI told Ramapo police to follow them to the yeshiva on Carlton Road about 9 p.m. Authorities remained at the scene until early Thursday morning, when several agents were seen leaving the building, loading equipment into several unmarked cars with New Jersey license plates.

The source said arrests were made in Rockland as well as New Jersey.

An FBI spokesman in the New York City office said actions in connection to the investigation were also ongoing in Brooklyn.

The spokesman would only say that searches were being conducted in connection with an “ongoing investigation.” He could not confirm whether arrests had been made and referred all calls to the agency’s Newark, N.J. office. Officials there could not be reached for comment.

Agents could be seen inside the school's lobby area and at various points outside the building. Students in the yeshiva’s parking lot said the school is for high school children. Several said they were inside when the raid began, but were forced to remain outside during the bulk of the law enforcement action.

Rockland County District Attorney Thomas Zugibe on Wednesday said he was aware of the raid, but referred all questions to the FBI. Ramapo police also would not field 
questions concerning the matter.

It was reported that Rabbi Mendel Epstein of Brooklyn was arrested in Flatbush.

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