Photo Credit: Nathan Lewin
Nathan Lewin

ATF employees in Chicago and Los Angeles had concocted an elaborate ruse similar to the agunah scenario created by the FBI. They told targets of the “sting” that there were “stash houses” where cocaine was stored that could easily be robbed. The “stash houses” were fictitious, just as were the agunah and her recalcitrant husband. When the individuals who had been lured by the seeming availability of a robbery target tried to rob a phony “stash house,” the ATF was waiting. The “robbers” were arrested and charged with conspiracy, attempted robbery, and possession of cocaine – just as the ”kidnapping” group of Jewish men who traveled to the warehouse were arrested for conspiracy and attempted kidnapping.

In two cases in California a federal judge threw out the convictions because of the prosecution’s “outrageous conduct.” He noted that a federal Court of Appeals had listed six “factors” that were relevant in deciding whether the government’s conduct was “outrageous.” These included the government’s “role in creating the crime of conviction,” “encouragement of the defendants to commit the offense conduct,” and “participation in the offense conduct.”


In all these, the “Getcha Sting” paralleled the ATF operation. Three other additional “factors” relating to targets of the “sting” would permit the ATF sting but reject the “Getcha Sting.” The government’s conduct in the “Getcha Sting” was also much more reprehensible than in the ATF “stings” because the FBI engaged in fraud to mislead a religious authority to create bogus religious documents such as hazmanot and a seruv.

If the ATF’s “sting” was so outrageous that Zachary Fardon, the federal prosecutor in Chicago, dropped 27 cases against black and Hispanic defendants rather than prosecute them, why did Paul J. Fishman, the United States attorney for the District of New Jersey, proceed with the trial of rabbis and young Jewish men who committed a less serious offense than attempted robbery and possession of cocaine? And why did he urge severe prison sentences for rabbis and Orthodox Jews who were only trying to perform the mitzvah of freeing an agunah?



  1. Really? Because it seems par for the course in modern law enforcement. It is much easier to manufature a crime than it is to find and stop actual crminals who have already commited a crime. It helps justify budgets, all up and down the line.

  2. Three distinguished rabbis who had courageously championed the cause of agunot – women whose former husbands cruelly prevent their remarriage by deliberately withholding a Get – LOL. I didn't know charging $80,000 smackaroos was so courageous.

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