Former Orthodox Jewish Inmate Sues Ocean County Jail Over Alleged Mistreatment, Harassment

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TOMS RIVER, NJ – An Orthodox Jewish man who served time in the Ocean County Jail on domestic charges is now claiming he was mistreated by jail staff who didn’t recognize his observance as a religious Jew while incarcerated.  While waiting for his pre-trial hearing, he claims he was subjected to harassment by jail staff and other inmates.

He was arrested after a physical altercation with his wife in Jackson Township.

On March 10th, he was charged for causing bodily injury to his wife.  A month later, he was charged again for contempt-violation of judicial order and on June 10th he was charged again, this time for violating a court order an inconvenient annoyance.

A lawsuit filed by Jackson Township law firm Levin, Shea, Pfeffer and Goldman on behalf of their client Moshe Iskhakov claims jail personnel harassed him and refused to allow him to practice his religion during his 72 hours incarceration.  Iskahakov was lodged in the Ocean County Jail between March 9th and March 11th, 2019.

One month later, in April, he filed a tort claim against the jail. Now, he has filed a lawsuit against the Ocean County Department of Corrections, Jail Warden Sandra Meuler, Deputy Warden Joseph Valenti and ten “John Does” including corrections officers and his fellow inmates.

His lawyers claim during his stay, he experienced severe religious discrimination, bullying, threats, and harassment.

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Here are the claims being made by Iskhakov:

  • He was criticized for wearing a yarmulka, the traditional Jewish head covering, having it repeatedly taken off and inspected by jail security.
  • His cell, cell 24 were two swastikas drawn with sharpies and a target with the text “Pop Him, Iskhakov”.
  • Other inmates threatened to kill and harm him.
  • A correction officer told another inmate to “Teach that Jew-boy a lesson”.
  • One inmate threatened to “knife him”.
  • Correction officers said, “Jew-boy thinks he’s special.”
  • After meeting with his lawyer, he was told by jail staff to “go back to your cage”.
  • When he requested a second spoon, required under his religious practice, he was denied.

“Sadly, we live in a world where anti-semitism is now the norm,” Ian Goldman, attorney for Mr. Iskhakov told The Lakewood Scoop in 2019. “What is truly horrific about this case, is that it appears to have been openly practiced by Ocean County Corrections Officers, whose duty is to serve and to protect the public.”

Iskhakov said the ordeal has caused him mental and emotional distress which has since diminished his capacity to earn a living and his capacity to enjoy life.

He is now suing the county for a minimum of $1,000,000 plus attorney’s fees.