Saturday, March 17, 2012

An orthodox rabbi who refused to testify before a federal grand jury, saying that his religious beliefs prohibit informing on fellow Jews, has been jailed by a District Court judge for contempt of court

Moshe Zigelman, a 64-year-old Hasidic rabbi, was ordered to report to a federal detention center in Brooklyn. Until he chooses to testify, he will remain behind bars up to a maximum of 18 months, according to federal prosecutors. Zigelman has previously pleaded guilty and served a prison sentence for his role in a tax-evasion scheme by his Brooklyn-based orthodox sect, Spinka. After his release, he was subpoenaed to testify before a Los Angeles grand jury continuing its probe into the scheme. Citing an ancient Jewish principle, Zigelman refused to testify, telling a federal judge forcefully during a contempt hearing through a Yiddish interpreter: "Because the transgression of mesira is so dire, my mind won’t change until I die.”

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