Rabbi under arrest for extortion involving another Rabbi

November 22, 2013 9:09:20 AM PST
A Brooklyn Rabbi is under arrest for bribing children to falsely accuse a rival Rabbi of sexual abuse.

It is certainly one of the more unusual cases coming out of the Brooklyn District Attorney's office.

And one that now raises questions about one recent child molestation case.

"Imagine what happens when someone is motivated by greed and causes false or exagerated claims to be made about such terrible abuse," said DA Hynes.

District Attorney Charles Hynes is accusing Samuel Kellner of doing just that and much more when he allegedly coerced two young people to testify against Rabbi Baruch Libovits who a year ago was facing child molestation charges.

"Kellner then hatched a plot to make a profit out of this terrible situation by offering a second young man money to falsely claim that Libovits had molested him as a child," adds Hynes.

Kellner is accused of trying to pay him $10,000. Rabbi Libovits went to trial last year on child molestation charges and strangely at the time, even his attorney questioned one of the alleged victims.

But Kellner, the District Attorney accuses, carries his alleged plot even further.

"Kellner sent emmisarries to Libovits's family telling them that he controlled the witnesses against Baruch Libovits, and that in return for $400,000 he would insure that the witnesses would not testify at trial.

Libovits' family, prosecutors say, refused the alleged extortion demands. But then a third victim comes forward, testifies against Libovits who is later found guilty and sentenced to 33 years.

Charging Kellner with multiple counts of conspiracy, attempted grand larceny and perjury prosecutors say.

"We also have to be very very careful about false complaints and prosecute those people who would use the system to extort money because of false complaints," adds DA Hynes.

But while Hynes believes Libovits' conviction will stand, famed defense attorney Alan Dershowitz is now trying to get Libovits released from prison while his case is appealed.

"The statue provides that bail should be set in cases where there is a reasonable likelihood of prevailing on appeal. And we feel there is a reasonable likelihood," said Dershowitz.