Two men from the central region face charges of extortion and conspiracy to
commit a crime after they hatched a scheme to seduce and blackmail a New York
City rabbi, according to an indictment presented to the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s
Court on Monday.
Shai Cohen, 37, of Beit Dagan, and Simon Suriano, 38, of
Tel Aviv are accused of recruiting two young women to contact the New York rabbi
and seduce him into a personal encounter. The suspects planned to then
photograph the rabbi in a compromising position and use the photos to extort
The indictment alleges that back in June, Cohen came up with the
plan to blackmail the rabbi, with whom he had a previous acquaintance. He then
contacted Suriano and the two men plotted to use two women – “B.B.” and “G.G.” –
to ensnare the clergyman.
Cohen reportedly offered B.B. $20,000 to take
part in the scam, which first required her to send a half-naked picture of
herself to the rabbi, tell him of her desire to convert to Judaism and request
he meet with her privately.
G.G., for her part, was offered “a salary for
the rest of her life” by Cohen, according to the indictment – before she herself
fell victim to a blackmail attempt by Cohen. The indictment reads that after
Cohen recruited G.G., he filmed her performing oral sex on him and threatened to
release the video to her boyfriend in Las Vegas and the Internet at large if she
reneged on the scheme.
He also reportedly threatened to cause her bodily
Along the way, Cohen and Suriano tried to capture the rabbi in
compromising positions and record him on the telephone speaking to the women,
all to no avail.
Eventually, in mid-July, both G.G. and B.B. went
separately to the police and informed them and the rabbi of the
Both Cohen and Suriano were arrested shortly thereafter and now
face a series of extortion and conspiracy charges.
attorney’s office on Monday issued a request to keep alleged mastermind Cohen in
jail until the end of his trial, saying “there is good reason to suspect that he
poses a threat to the safety of the public.”