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5 Jdl Members Sentenced

December 17, 1976
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

One of the five Jewish Defense League members sentenced Tuesday and yesterday on weapons charges in a federal indictment is in custody here awaiting a decision on where he will serve his sentence, three will surrender to federal marshals this month and next, and one was given a suspended sentence for cooperating with the prosecution, the prosecutor reported today.

Those sentenced were Russel Kelner, 35, former JDL operations officer; Steven Ehrlich, 21, of San Francisco; Jeffrey Weingarten, 22 and Stephen Rombom, 18. Kelner, Weingarten and Rombom are from Brooklyn. Thomas Macintosh, 36, of Woodbury, N.J., described by the JDL as a convert, was given a suspended sentence, for his cooperation, according to Joseph Jaffe, the prosecutor.

Kelner, sentenced to a three-year term, is now in the Manhattan Correctional Center awaiting transfer to a federal prison. He will be eligible for parole after serving one year. Kelner also pleaded guilty to probation violation on a sentence for threatening, on a television program, the life of Yasir Arafat, the head of the Palestine Liberation Organization, when Arafat came to New York in 1975 to address the United Nations General Assembly.

Jaffe said Kelner will be sentenced by another federal judge on the probation charge and faces up to a one year term which will be either concurrent or in addition to his three-year term on the federal weapons indictment. He said he did not know when Kelner would appear on the probation violation plea.


Federal Judge Lloyd MacMahon imposed the sentences Tuesday and on the others yesterday. He sentenced Ehrlich, Weingarten and Rombom to up to six years. These are indeterminate sentences under the Youth Corrections Act under which the defendants can be paroled at any time if they convince a parole board they have been rehabilitated.

Judge MacMahon recommended that Ehrlich serve his indeterminate sentence near his San Francisco home and he was released on, ball with orders to surrender to the federal marshal in San Francisco by Dec. 26. Weingarten was ordered to surrender to the U.S. Marshal in Manhattan by Jan. 19. The defense asked for an extension so that Weingarten would have time to complete a college examination and Judge MacMahon agreed. Rombom must surrender here by Jan. 19.

Each defendant had pleaded guilty to one count of the multi-count indictment which accused the five JDL members of using heavy explosives and guns to carry out attacks against buildings occupied by Soviet and Iraqi diplomats. Pipe-bombings also were charged. The specific charges involved a number of bombing and sniping incidents from August, 1975 to April, 1976 at the Soviet and Iraqi missions and the Soviet residential complex in Riverdale, N.Y. No one was injured in the shootings.

During the hearing, Jaffe stressed that the government “did not bring an indictment against the Jewish Defense League,” but rather against five individual defendants who violated federal law. Judge MacMahon, in imposing sentence, agreed that “we are not here talking about ideals” but he added that “history’s greatest monsters would swear to this day that they were right.”

Bonnie Pechter, national JDL director, declared after the sentencing that “there are two standards of justice in this country, one for Jews and one for other people.” She added that the sentences “have shown the way the government feels when it comes to Jews.” The “greatest tragedy,” she asserted, “is that when Jews are in trouble, other Jews do not come to their aid,” She specified she meant moral and financial help.

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