Israel Police last week arrested Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto as they move ahead with an investigating alleging surrounding bribery and money laundering charges. Pinto has also been the target of FBI investigators in recent months, also surrounding alleged white collar crimes.
According to senior Israel Police officer Brigadier-General Ephraim Bracha, Pinto recently offered him a 200,000 NIS bribe and Bracha reported this to his superiors. Police report the alleged bribe was offered by the rabbi who wished to obtain information surrounding an investigation by police focusing on Pinto’s Chazon Yoshiyahu non-profit organization.
A sting operation was set into place. An agreement was reached between the two by which the rav’s wife would bring the money to the officer’s wife. Police monitored the transaction and the exchange of money was videoed by the surveillance team.
Rav Pinto’s attorney told the media his client has been cooperating with police and is confident that he will be cleared of all charges.
Pinto and his rebitzen, Rivka, were under house arrest over shabbos. Police on Sunday morning, 28 Tishrei 5773 summoned the rav for questioning once again.
Rav Pinto, who has a large and growing following, has undoubtedly made enemies as he continues to boast increasing assets. According to Forbes Magazine, his estimated wealth is 75 million NIS, which includes his seaside village in Ashdod valued at 10 million NIS, as well as a Manhattan home. Supporters of the rav insist that jealousy is behind much of the unjustified opposition and investigation against their rav.
Israel Police officials confirm that they are also probing their own ranks, admitting the news of a number of senior officers being so well placed in the inner Pinto circle as troubling. They explain that seeing officers at some of the Rav Pinto events is cause for concern, adding this is true regarding officers being too close to other rabbonim and politicians too, including “The Rentgan” (Rav Yaakov Effergan).
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)