Over Shabbos, appeals were made in Crown Heights shuls for residents to assist with the legal costs of a rabbinic judge and arbitrator who is a defendant in the 'get case.'
He is accused of association with the rabbis arrested in an FBI sting in New Jersey and New York on charges of plotting to kidnap and torture a man to force him to grant a divorce to his wife.
He was released on $500,000 bail. Upon instructions by U.S. Magistrate Judge Douglas E. Arpert, he is currently under house arrest and monitored by an electronic ankle bracelet.
A group of caring local residents have formed the "Committee for 5774 Initiative" to help raised funds to defend him. Members are Golan Ben Oni, Lipa Brennan, Sholem B. Hecht, Shea Hecht, Yosef Orenstein, Moshe Pinson, Yoni Raskin and Benzion Stock.
"Because of his well-intentioned activities, he is now facing a very serious legal challenge and must put together a capable and respected Defense Team to help clear his name and exonerate him," they wrote in a letter Friday.
Calling him a Torah scholar who "has devoted himself to matters of Halacha and especially Gittin," they said "he was not knowledgeable of all of the details involved at the time that he joined together with the other members of the Bais Din to effectuate the Get."
They asked the rabbis and gabboim in the community to "appeal to your Congregants to be generous and donate as much as they possibly can so that we can help the family in their time of need."
"The Prosecutors are trying to make this a case which could involve a sentence of Life in Prison," they warned.
The letter said the family has been able to put together, from their own resources, $15,000 but the total $50,000 is needed by Monday, October 21, 2013. Knowledgeable people in these types of cases estimate that the legal fees could rise to $200,000 or $300,000, they said.
The committee is operating with the help of the National Committee for Furtherance of Jewish Education (NCFJE) Pidyon Shivuyim Fund, a recognized 501c3 organization. Donations are tax-deductible.