Jewish ‘cult’ members now facing lesser charges in alleged kidnap plot

New York Post/July 10, 2019

By Andrew Denney

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.

In addition to the criminal case, Aaron Teller, the father of the two children has filed a federal lawsuit under the Hague Convention against their mother, Sara Helbrans, arguing that he actually has custody of the couple’s six children and that the mother abducted them late last year — and that their legal residence is in Guatemala.

“Mrs. Helbrans illegally manipulated the Guatemalan and American legal system by filing false Amber alerts in both countries to first strip the father of physical custody and later take physical and legal temporary custody in NY of the six children,” the suit states.

According to court papers submitted by Sara Helbrans, the Lev Tahor live in a remote, guarded compound lacking in basic amenities and that she fled with her children when she learned that her then-13 year old daughter was arranged to be married to the then-19-year-old son of a community leader.

She claims that Teller decided to part with the family and remain at the Lev Tahor compound — and that the sect “used force and weapons to prohibit her children from leaving the country with their mother.”

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