Erskin Felix Sentenced in Murder of Stark, Maintains His Innocence

OPINION – LM

Erskin Felix Claims he is Innocent and We Think He May Very Have Been Wrongly Convicted

Erskin Felix has maintained his innocence since day one. He said he did not kill Stark. He had the opportunity to plea a deal which he did not take, knowing that were he to be convicted, he would not get off lightly. He has continuously stated that he would not have killed Stark.

We have believed, all along. There were more than a fair share of people who had to gain by Stark’s tragic death.  Menachem Stark was involved with business and real estate partners for whom his death was a payday with a windfall outcome. Many of Stark’s properties have wound up in the hands of those very partners who have since sold them onward and made substantially lucrative deals.

There are things about the case that never made sense. The Van did not initially show signs of Stark or DNA. It was not captured on all of the videos that should have captured it had events been as depicted. A second pass over the van lead to finding DNA; and while the inconsistencies with the evidence have resulted in a partial conviction on evidence tampering, we don’t believe any of it. If the evidence was tampered with, it was not by Felix.

It took hours before the police were called in. Instead, the Shomrim were initially called and they reviewed everything first. The lack of transparency within Shomrim as a general matter leads one to question the actions they took after the initial determination that Stark was missing.

We received information that shortly after his death there were changes to LLC boxes at 199 Lee Avenue, where many of Stark’s properties were registered and where many of his property managers had “suites” (more accurately PO Boxes) including new addresses for some of these managers and companies.

We received information from Stark’s tenants who claimed that there were some very shady dealings; many included coercing them to  to sign documents that they later realized dismantled their rights to their homes, just days after the disappearance but before it was widely known the circumstances of Stark’s death or even that Stark was indeed dead. 

Moreover, while there was supposedly a kidnapping for ransom behind the Stark murder, no official information has ever been disseminated regarding the nature of the ransom except an alleged $20,000 payment. However, Felix had always claimed that this was not true. Why would three men from St. Lucia be involved in anything like this for $20,000? It just makes no sense.

We speculate that the other two “conspirators” were paid handsomely to accept a deal, spend time in prison and come out to find some form of compensation for their troubles waiting. It gives us a few years to figure it all out.

In the meantime, we wish our condolences to the Stark family. The death was tragic and unnecessary and right or wrong in our theories, he should not have died for money or for any other reason. 

We sincerely hope there are others out there who see this as we do. Erskin Felix is, in our opinion, innocent. We hope someone, if not us, manages to figure it all out.

Erskin Felix Sentenced to 24 Years to Life for Murder and Kidnapping of Menachem Stark

BROOKLYN

Erskin Felix, convicted of the murder and kidnapping of Menachem Stark, was sentenced Thursday to 24 years to life in prison. Five years and five months after Stark’s death, all four men accused of involvement in the crime have now been convicted or pleaded guilty, and sentenced.

In a victim impact statement prior to the sentencing, Mrs. Bashie Stark described the pain her family has experienced since her husband’s death.

“It was Erskin Felix who planned and executed this cruel attack, and it is he who’s responsible for the trauma that my family is suffering to this day and will suffer for the rest of our lives,” said Mrs. Stark, who remained composed throughout the statement. “With the murder of this sweet and gentle man, my loss is huge and my children too are going through life missing that love and security that their devoted father had always provided.”

“Menachem and I always imagined growing old together and watching our children reach adulthood. But in the years that have passed, two of my children got married and Menachem wasn’t there with us. Two grandchildren were born, and Menachem never got to meet them. To hold them. To bounce them on his knee. They will never know his love. My little ones barely remember their father, the man that loved them more than life itself.”

Stark was kidnapped by two men on the night of January 2, 2014, outside his Williamsburg office, and forced into the men’s minivan, in a scene captured on surveillance footage. His body was found in Long Island the next day.

A jury deliberated for less than five hours before convicting Felix, 40, in April, of second-degree murder, first degree kidnapping and tampering with physical evidence. He was acquitted of another first-degree kidnapping charge and a conspiracy charge.

Felix is believed to have masterminded a plan to kidnap Stark and hold him for ransom, claiming Stark owed him money. Felix managed construction sites on properties owned by Stark, a real-estate developer. Stark was friendly with Felix, according to testimony by Mrs. Stark, and had also hired Felix to do contracting work on his home some years earlier.

According to testimony by Erskin’s cousin Kendel Felix, Erskin and Kendel carried out the kidnapping, then drove to the home of Erskin’s brother Kendall Felix and picked him up, and then picked up another cousin, Irvine Henry. The plan went awry when the group suddenly realized that Menachem was no longer breathing; Erskin had unintentionally suffocated Menachem, who was already bound and gagged, when he had kneeled on Menachem’s chest.

Erskin and Irvine left the vehicle and returned to the area of Menachem’s office – likely to retrieve a tracking device Erskin had placed under Menachem’s vehicle weeks earlier – but, fearing being seen, went home. Meanwhile, Kendall and Kendel drove the minivan with Menachem’s body to Long Island, where they put him in a dumpster and burned him.

Kendel was convicted in September 2016 of felony murder and kidnapping. The other three were arrested shortly thereafter, and Kendel then reached a deal to cooperate with against Erskin for a reduced sentence.

Kendel was sentenced in May to the minimum of 15 years to life.

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ADDITIONAL READING:

Man convicted in kidnapping, murder of Menachem Stark gets 15 years

‘Mastermind’ of 2014 kidnapping and murder sentenced to 24 years to life in prison

 

 

Lev Tahor, a Plot Hatched from Jail to Recapture Children – Fundamentalist Judaism and its Dangers

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‘Jewish’ cult planned to abduct Brooklyn kids again

They were plotting to kidnap these kids again — and vowed to fight their mom “to the death” to get them.

Even from jail, members of the Guatemala-based extremist Jewish cult “Lev Tahor” were planning the re-abduction of two Orthodox children — kids whose mother has now three times rescued from the group, according to a chilling new indictment obtained by The Post.

In threatening to seize the children back, the sick sect’s “boss” in Guatemala, speaking by phone in Yiddish, “used violent language” toward mom Sara Helbrans, the indictment alleges, “including that he will fight the mother until the last drop of blood and that they will fight her to the death.”

“I will take them out from under your hands,” the “boss” warned the mom of her children, Yante, 14, and Chaim, 12 — during a call she secretly recorded for the feds, the indictment said.

“And will take them back to their [cult member] father, with God’s help,” the unnamed leader allegedly threatened in the phone call.

Lev Tahor members were especially hell-bent on re-capturing the older child, Yante, so that the girl couldn’t testify against the cult, according to the indictment, which was filed this week in White Plains and charges alleged cult member Matityae Moshe Malka with conspiracy.

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Meyer Rosner, from Williamsburg, Charged with Kidnapping – Bail Denied

Aaron Rosner (center) and the two children he allegedly kidnapped: 14-year-old Yante Teller (left) and her 12-year old brother Chaim Teller (right)

READ IT: FBI Charges Williamsburg Man With Assisting Lev Tahor Kidnapping; Bail DENIED

 

(FULL DOCUMENT IN EXTENDED ARTICLE)

The FBI has charged the Williamsburg man arrested last week with assisting the Lev Tahor cult in kidnapping two children from their family in upstate New York, and conspiring to transport them to Mexico.

As YWN reported Monday, Aaron Yeshaya Rosner was arrested on Motzei Shabbos. Days before, his brother, Meyer Rosner was arrested by Interpol and the FBI in Mexico, along with 4 other alleged leaders of the cult.

“He’s the ambassador of Lev Tahor to the US,” a community source said of Aaron Rosner, as reported by The NY Post.

Aaron is being charged in connection with the kidnapping of 14-year-old Yante Teller and her 12-year old brother Chaim Teller. YWN previously reported that the siblings were kidnapped on a Shabbos morning (December 8, 2018) in the town of Woodridge. The teens were last seen getting into a vehicle in front of the home at around 2:56AM, and then driving away.

[PIDYON SHVUYIM?! Is There a Mitzvah To Assist The Imprisoned Lev Tahor Cult Leaders? – Halachic Analysis]

In the indictment, the FBI says that Rosner “unlawfully seized, confined, inveigled, decoyed, kidnapped, abducted and carried away and held for ransom and reward and otherwise, a person when the person was willfully transported in interstate and foreign commerce…. Aron Rosner participated in a scheme to kidnap two victims in Woodridge, New York and unlawfully transport the victims to Mexico”.

The FBI agent leading the investigation notes he has learned that “Lev Tahor is a group comprised of ultra-Orthodox Jews mostly living in Guatemala. I have further reviewed news reports indicating that children in Lev Tahor are often subject to sexual, physical or emotional abuse.”

The indictment discusses previous YWN reporting, involving the children’s mother escaping the cult and travelling to the United States, where she was later reunited with her children. She was granted full custody of the children on December 13.

[At the time that YWN published the first report that the children had been kidnapped ON SHABBOS, many doubted YWN and called the story “fake news”. YWN apologizes for our earlier error in reporting that the children were kidnapped in a vehicle at 3:32AM, as the FBI has now confirmed it was in fact at 2:56AM on Shabbos morning. Our apologies.]

The indictment states that the kidnapped children left the country through an airport located near Scranton, Pennsylvania. They were accompanied by an unnamed man, and traveled to Mexico City.

The children and their chaperone were disguised in odd clothing confirmed to have been purchased just days before, including some with “superman logos” on it. The clothing was purchased in Seacaus, New Jersey by two men wearing traditional Hasidic garb.

The indictment states that Aaron Rosner arranged for 7 wire transfers to contacts in Mexico throughout December, totaling $3550. He is known to have arranged conference calls among Lev Tahor leaders involved in the kidnapping plot. They discussed the purchase of flights, bus tickets, credit cards and food, as well as hotel rooms in Mexico.

Rosner also participated in a discussion about obtaining passports after having overstayed in Mexico “by putting money into the passport before handing it over to the person at customs and asking them to backdate it for you”.

YWN has learned that Aaron Rosner has been denied bail. He is also believed to have driven the vehicle transporting the kidnapped children from Woodridge to the airport in Scranton, on Shabbos R”L.

Additionally, YWN has learned that several of the co-conspirators mentioned in the indictment – Hasidic Jews from New York – may be cooperating with the investigation.

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Man Charged in Kidnapping Lev Tahor Children – Cult’s Ambassador, But How Fine a Line is it Between them and the Next Most Radical Group?

Brooklyn man charged with kidnapping in connection with Jewish extremist ‘cult’

A Brooklyn man has been arrested in connection with two kids who disappeared after escaping from an extremist “cult” in Guatemala, authorities said.

Aron Rosner — the brother of a top official in the Jewish sect Lev Tahor — was arrested by the FBI and State Police at about 1 a.m. in Williamsburg on Sunday, according to sources and police officials.

Yante and Chaim Teller
Yante and Chaim TellerNY State Police

Rosner was charged with kidnapping and obstruction of justice following the Dec. 8 disappearance of 14-year-old Yante and 12-year-old Chaim.

The kids returned to New York after leaving the controversial, nomadic Lev Tahor community, which consists of roughly 35 families living in a compound in Guatemala. They were last seen with their mother in upstate New York.

“He’s the ambassador of Lev Tahor to the US,” a source said of Rosner, who was expected to be arraigned as early as Monday.

Gur Hasidic Man, Kidnapping, Drugs

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Gur Hasidic Man Faces Serious Charges In, kidnapping, Drugs Case

Eliezer Vigdarovich, a well-connected and well-known figure in the Gur Hasidic community, is facing an array of serious criminal charges in an affair that some in the district attorney’s office describe as “straight out of a Hollywood script.”

The amended indictment filed on Monday in Jerusalem District Court alleges that for the last few years, Vigdarovich has blackmailed by means of threats, engaged in aggravated assault, fabricated evidence, supplied drugs, kidnapped for the purpose of imprisonment and other serious crimes.

The schemes were orchestrated with the aim of incriminating an innocent couple in order to keep the woman away from her nine children (a goal that has so far been accomplished).

In December 2015, an Israeli couple was arrested at the airport in Boryspil, Ukraine, as they prepared to board a flight home, after a commercial quantity of marijuana, nearly 700 grams, was discovered in their luggage. The man, P., and the woman, H., were arrested and charged with drug possession and attempted drug smuggling.

Their trial is still ongoing in Ukraine.

Immediately after their arrest, suspicions were raised in the Gur community that they had been set up. An indictment was brought against Vigdarovich on Tuesday.

He is alleged to have planted the drugs on the couple in order to trap them outside of Israel and prevent the woman from having contact with her children.

Erez Padan, an assistant Jerusalem district attorney, tweeted: “One of the most difficult and convoluted cases we have dealt with this year culminated in an indictment today. Like a Hollywood script.”

H., a mother of nine, divorced her husband in September 2015. Even after the divorce proceedings were concluded, she and her husband continued to fight in the rabbinical court over custody for some of their nine children. Various people from the Gur community who also wished to sever her connection to the children also became involved.

Following the divorce, H., expressed her desire to marry P., a divorcé who had provided marriage counseling to her and her ex-husband while they were still married.

For a long time, members of the Gur community meddled in the family conflict. According to the indictment, they first pressured H. Then Vigdarovich himself pressured P. to leave H., even paying people to beat him up (one of the two attackers was also named in the charge sheet).

Vigdarovich was allegedly involved in later attempts to get P. and H. to marry, with the thought that it would then be easier to separate her from her children.

In one instance, Vigdarovich flew P. to Switzerland. Two thugs hired by Vigdarovich took him to an apartment, beat him, handcuffed him and threatened to kill him using a fake gun. Vigdarovich came to the apartment and issued P. a series of demands, including ordering him to make sure that H. surrenders custody of her children.

At P.’s request, H. flew to Italy meet him and Vigdarovich in order to discuss the conditions.

After the couple refused his proposal that they remain abroad for a year, Vigdarovich was still able to convince P. to look into a job offer in Uman, Ukraine.

The couple flew there, but when Vigdarovich learned that the job wasn’t going to pan out and they were planning to return, he came up with the plan to plant drugs in their luggage.

“The plot was to plant the drugs so that they would easily discovered during the expected security check at the Boryspil Airport near Kiev, before their return flight to Israel… in order to incriminate them and get them arrested for a long period of time, so they would be unable to return to Israel for many years,” says the indictment.

The plot was carried out with the aid of locals whose identities are unknown to the prosecutors, Chen Bar Shalom and Aviad Dwek.

Vigdarovich was arrested last September.

The indictment states that he gave various false statements under questioning. At one point he signed a state’s witness agreement, promising to obtain recordings and evidence against the people who placed the drugs in H. and P.’s luggage and lead the police to them.

In wake of that agreement, he was released to house arrest, which he took advantage of to “mislead the police detectives and to obstruct the investigation with the intent of… disrupting the investigation, obscuring evidence and avoid having to go to trial for his role in the plot to plant drugs on the couple and get them imprisoned.”

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