Matityau Moshe Malka is currently awaiting sentencing after being found guilty of a scheme to kidnap a 14-year-old girl and her 12-year-old brother from their mother.
In July 2017, Lev Tahor leader Shlomo Helbrans died under suspicious circumstances while immersing in a river near San Jeronimo, Mexico. His son Nachman formally took charge of the cult and shortly thereafter allegedly orchestrated the killing of his sister Miriam, urging her to prove her trust in him and eat a sesame dip, to which she was deathly allergic.
Two of Nachman's siblings (Nosson and Nechama) had already fled the cult. Only Yoel Heinich & Sara remained. Sara had married Aaron Arye Teller, dean of Lev Tahor's yeshiva, many years earlier.
Nachman's leadership began with a severe tightening of restrictions, according to reports from those who managed to escape the cult and testimony from Sara Teller. More food items were banned, and the age for marriage was dropped to 12. When Sara was notified that her 13-year-old daughter was to be married to a 19-year-old, she protested.
Hanhala responded by punishing Sara, forcing her to work as a maid and removing several children from her home. The marriage of her 13-year-old daughter went ahead. Reports from those who fled the cult also suggest that Aaron Arye may have been temporarily expelled to a home outside of their rural Guatemalan compound.
In October 2018, after forcibly working as a maid for over a year, Sara escaped the cult. She found refuge with friends in Guatemala City, former members of Lev Tahor trying to rebuild their lives, and after rescuing several of her other children, she made her way to the United States.
A short while later, Aron Arye Teller took the then-14-year-old girl and her 12-year-old brother to Mexico together with another Lev Tahor woman who posed as his wife and the mother of his children in order to get new passports. The two children were taken from Aron Arye and sent to the United States.
Around one month later, a Brooklyn court granted Sara sole custody of all her children. Aron Arye, who had refused to participate in the court proceedings, was prohibited from communicating with the children.
In December 2018, two months after Sara's escape, Matityau's cousin Mordechay Malka participated in the kidnapping of the two children, an elaborate scheme that involved drop phones, using aliases and fake travel documents, disguises and an encryption app. The kidnapping also took place on Shabbat and involved numerous cult members driving vehicles and flying across America, breaking Jewish religious laws.
It took three weeks for an international team of agents to locate and rescue the children from a San Miguel Tlaixpan, Mexico. They were returned to their mother in New York.
That's when Matityau was activated to organize a second kidnap attempt. Believed to be on the lower rungs of Lev Tahor's "hanhala" (administration), the 30-year-old acted as the operative on the ground, handing the 14-year-old several cell phones.
On June 2, 2022, Matityau was convicted of one count of conspiring to commit international parental kidnapping, to unlawfully use a means of identification, and to enter by false pretenses the secure area of an airport, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. He was also convicted of one count of attempted international parental kidnapping, which carries a maximum sentenced of three years of prison.
On September 7, 2022 Mr. Malka was sentenced in a New York court. The judge gave Mr. Malka, a 66-months sentence after he gave a discombobulated speech before the court. The speech included a plea that his sentence should be the same length as his “Rebbe” - Nachman Helbrans.