Mordechai Malka and Matisyahu Malka, have been found guilty of plotting to kidnap a 14-year-old girl and her 12-year-old brother from their mother.
The two Lev Tahor cult leaders were convicted of kidnapping at the White Plains court after a three-week trial by jury. As per the trial, the men participated in kidnapping the children in December 2018. They transferred the children, Yenta and Chaim Teller, from the US to Mexico.
Prior to this, the children’s mother had escaped from the Lev Tahor enclosure in Guatemala and arrived in the US in November 2018. At this point, a Brooklyn family court gave the mother sole custody over the children and forbade their father, a senior member of the cult, from communicating with them.
After the mother escaped to New York, Mordechai Malka and other members of the cult devised a plan to return the children to their community. In the middle of the night in December 2018, they kidnapped the children and transferred them via various states to Mexico.
The kidnappers used disguises, costumes, false travel documents, and coded apps to perpetuate their plan, which was performed on Shabbos and involved Shabbos desecration.
During the final hearing, Mordechai Malka, 27, and Matisyahu Malka, 30, were indicted for plotting an international kidnapping, using illegal ID, and illicitly entering a security section of an airport, crimes which carry a five-year sentence.
Mordechai Malka was also charged with international kidnapping to a parent and attempted kidnapping to a parent- crimes that carry a three-year sentence.