One of the defendants, Shai Cohen of Beit Dagan, met a rabbi in New York and decided to blackmail him. He approached an acquaintance, Simon Suriano, 38, from Tel Aviv and they came up with a scheme.
Two months ago they contacted a female acquaintance of Suriano and asked her to request the rabbi's help with her planned conversion to Judaism.
The duo offered her $20 thousand. She called the rabbi and also emailed him partial nude photos of her taken by the defendants.
A few weeks later, Cohen asked another woman to join the extortion. He promised her a "lifetime's salary". Cohen and the women videotaped themselves having sex.
The defendant, now holding a copy of the movie, threatened the woman he would send it to her boyfriend. She contacted the rabbi and told him she would like to work in a New York strip club. Later on Cohen sent the rabbi a photo of her clad in a bathing suit.
At some point the first woman informed the defendants that she wants out of the scheme and also let the rabbi in on the plan. Cohen threatened her and a few days later the other woman decided to quit as well and went to the police. Earlier when Cohen suspected she wanted to go to the police he threatened her with circulating their erotic home movie.
Cohen and Suriano are charged with conspiracy to commit a crime and extortion via threat. Cohen is also charged with threat and obstructing an investigation.
The prosecution claims Cohen's behavior makes him a "danger to public safety" and asked that he remain in custody until the end of proceedings.