Rabbi Accused of Bribing Witness in Case Against Other Rabbi

By Jonathan Dienst and Shimon Prokupecz
|  Wednesday, Apr 13, 2011  |  Updated 11:51 AM EDT
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Rabbi Accused of Bribing Witness

A rabbi has been arrested and accused of witness tampering and bribery.

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A Brooklyn rabbi is under arrest and facing charges of perjury, attempted grand larceny and criminal solicitation for allegedly paying an individual to accuse another rabbi of sexual abuse.

Sources tell NBC New York that Samuel Kellner was arrested Tuesday night. The Brooklyn district attorney has scheduled a news conference but has declined comment ahead of the announcement.

Kellner is accused of paying a witness to say he was abused by Rabbi Baruch Lebovits, who was sentenced a year ago to 32 years in prison after he was convicted of child molestation.

Defense lawyers for Lebovits say their client should be released.

Prosecutors said they still believe the victim was sexually abused by Lebovits and that the conviction should stand.

They said Kellner paid a second youth to claim he, too, was abused in an attempt to extort $400,000 from Lebovits and his family.

Kellner allegedly boasted he controlled the witnesses and that in exchange for a payoff he would prevent both youths from testifying, District Attorney Charles Hynes said.

Kellner's lawyer, Israel Freed, said he had no comment.

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