Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto Suspected of Bribing Police and Intimidating Witnesses

10-Page Court Dossier Could Lead to Indictment

haaretz

By Gidi Weitz

Published February 20, 2014.

(Haaretz) — Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto is suspected of systematically collecting information about senior police officers, demanding that some of them be replaced, threatening an officer, offering bribes worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and intimidating witnesses, according to a document prosecutors sent to Pinto and his wife, Rivka, a few weeks ago.

Prosecutors are now busy turning the 10-page document detailing these suspicions into an indictment, as Pinto waived his right to a hearing. The likely charges will include offering bribes, obstructing an investigation, suborning witnesses, making threats and money laundering. Pinto denies all the allegations.

The document, whose contents Haaretz is revealing for the first time, opens with the case of the now-defunct charity Hazon Yeshaya, run by one of Pinto’s associates, Abraham Israel. In 2011, some of the charity’s employees began suspecting Israel of embezzlement and demanded that he resign. Israel refused, and sought Pinto’s help, which Pinto agreed to provide.

Pursuant to this agreement, the document said, Israel transferred control of Hazon Yeshaya and its assets to Pinto. Some of Pinto’s associates were appointed to its board, and $1.1 million was transferred from Friends of Hazon Yeshaya to Rivka Pinto’s bank account. The Pintos “made use of this money for their personal affairs, such as paying for flights and hotels, paying their children’s nannies, money for their relatives, and legal fees.”

In December 2011, a complaint to the police sparked an undercover investigation of Israel and Hazon Yeshaya. Pinto soon discovered this, though who told him isn’t known. He then “decided to obstruct the investigation,” lest incriminating evidence against himself, his wife and Israel be found, the document said. To this end, “The rabbi began gathering information about the progress of the investigation and the people conducting it,” including senior police officers.

In January 2012, the document said, Pinto – possibly via his wife – ordered Israel not to return from a trip abroad in order to hinder the investigation. Israel ended up staying overseas for four months. In addition, having concluded from the information he obtained that police were probably wiretapping Israel and other Hazon Yeshaya employees, Pinto “instructed Israel to avoid speaking freely or mentioning names during phone calls. Israel acted accordingly.”

Pinto also pressured the complainants to “recant … their testimony to the police.” In part, the document said, he did this by making religious threats against them, since most were Orthodox Jews.



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