Jewish ‘cult’ members now facing lesser charges in alleged kidnap plot
Alleged members of the extremist Jewish group Lev Tahor are now facing lesser charges in the alleged kidnapping two Orthodox children from their mother in New York last year, according to an indictment unsealed this week.
The defendants were initially hit with federal kidnapping charges, which carry a ten-year mandatory minimum sentence.
But the new indictment shows that five men — Nachman Helbrans, Mayer Rosner, Aaron Rosner, Jacob Rosner and Matitya Moshe Malka — face just three counts of international parental kidnapping, which has a three-year maximum sentence, along with a related conspiracy charge.
Prosecutors allege the members of Lev Tahor, which translates to “Pure Heart” in Hebrew, kidnapped Yante Teller, 14, and Chaim Teller, 12, in December by disguising them and flying them out of an airport in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
The defendants are scheduled to appear on Friday before a federal judge in White Plains to be arraigned on the new charges.
Two of the defendants, reputed sect leader Helbrans and Malka, are also accused of hatching a later plot to take the kids away by delivering cellphones to one of the children in March so they could talk secretly about her recapture.
Attorneys for the defendants either declined to comment or could not be reached for comment.
The US Attorney’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.