Court: Con men tried to seduce, blackmail NY rabbi

Two Israelis indicted in Tel Aviv for allegedly recruiting women to lure rabbi, photograph him in compromising position.

August 13, 2012 20:11
1 minute read.
Suspect arrested [illustrative]

arrest 311 R. (photo credit: REUTERS/Eric Gaillard )


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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 him.

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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 harm.

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 plot.

Both Cohen and Suriano were arrested shortly thereafter and now face a series of extortion and conspiracy charges.

The district 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.”

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