Lev Tahor
Lev TahorReuters

Three brothers from Monsey, who became leaders of the extremist Jewish cult Lev Tahor, were sentenced on Tuesday to at least a dozen years in prison for their roles in the kidnapping of a 14-year-old and her brother six years ago so they could be returned to the group and the girl could resume her underage marriage, the Rockland/Westchester Journal News reported.

US District Judge Nelson Roman imposed prison terms of 14 years for Shmiel and Yakov Weingarten and 12 years for Yoil Weingarten, according to the report.

The brothers, who were convicted in March of transporting a minor for sexual purposes, conspiracy and international parental abduction, were the last of nine defendants sentenced in the case.

The brothers were the last of nine suspects in the case to stand trial. All have been convicted or pleaded guilty, including Lev Tahor’s leader, Nachman Helbrans, who was sentenced to 12 years in prison in 2022 for kidnapping and transporting minors for sexual purposes and other charges.

Jane and John Doe, the names used in court, were two of six children that Sara Helbrans — the daughter of Lev Tahor's late founder Rabbi Shlomo Helbrans — had with another leader of the group. In 2018 they were living in Guatemala, where the Lev Tahor community had moved after fleeing from child welfare investigations in Canada.

When plans were made for her 13-year-old daughter to marry 19-year-old Jacob Rosner, Sara balked but could not prevent the wedding and she soon became ostracized from the community and separated from her family. She left the group with three of her children, and moved to Brooklyn.

In the fall of 2018, when her husband took Jane, 12-year-old John and the sixth child to Mexico to get new passports, the children were taken by authorities and sent to their mother in New York. That November she obtained a Family Court order granting her custody of the children and prohibiting the father from contacting them.

Efforts to fight the court order were unsuccessful and the Weingartens then got involved in the plot to kidnap Jane and John, according to the report.

Early on a Shabbat morning in December of 2018, while Sara and her children were at a home in the Catskills celebrating Hanukkah, the two children were led out of the house to meet Sara’s brother Nachman Helbrans, Shmiel Weingarten and another member of the community.

The children were then taken to a hotel to change and then driven to the airport in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Nachman Helbrans then accompanied them on three flights that day, the last one to San Antonio, where they got a ride across the border into Mexico, the report said.

Once they made it to Mexico the children were kept in a hotel and then in a house, which was raided by police on December 18, 2018. Helbrans and Mayer and Jacob Rosner were arrested, but the children had been hiding and were not found. Shmiel and Yoil Weingarten then took the children, who were not recovered until nine days later when authorities found them and arrested the two Weingarten brothers.