Convicted Kabbalist Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto Okayed To Serve Time In Medical Facility

The Israel Prisons Service on Sunday decided that convicted rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto will serve his upcoming sentence for corruption under close medical supervision, due to health issues.

Beginning Tuesday, Pinto will serve out his one-year jail term for bribing a police officer at the prison service’s medical center in Ramle, Channel 2 reported.

In May, the Tel Aviv District Court sentenced Pinto to a year’s prison sentence and a NIS 1 million ($260,000) fine after the rabbi — a kabbalist with a sizable and influential international following — pleaded guilty as part of a plea bargain.

The case was linked to the suicide in July of police Brig. Gen. Ephraim Bracha, days after an Israeli news website accused him of accepting bribes from Pinto. Hours after his death, the Justice Ministry cleared Bracha of any wrongdoing.

Under his plea bargain, Pinto agreed to testify against Menashe Arviv, the former head of the police’s anti-corruption unit, who is suspected of receiving benefits from businessmen associated with the rabbi.

Pinto’s lawyers alleged to the State Attorney’s Office that Arviv had accepted favors illegally and provided secret information in return. Arviv was last questioned by police in September. Charges have not been brought against him.

The scandal prompted Arviv to take an extended vacation, and then, in February, to resign after 36 years of service in the police, though he maintained his innocence.

Since 2011, Pinto, 42, who heads several charity organizations and Torah study institutions in the coastal city of Ashdod and in the US, has been the subject of a number of ongoing investigations, both by Israeli police and the FBI.

The rabbi — whose followers have included Jay Schottenstein, chairman of the American Eagle Outfitters clothing company, and Israeli real estate mogul Jacky Ben-Zaken — was suspected of embezzlement of funds from an organization he oversaw. According to FBI suspicions, he was also the target of a blackmail attempt.

In April 2014, federal prosecutors brought charges against Republican US congressman Michael Grimm for receiving large contributions from followers of Pinto.

Grimm has acknowledged receiving $250,000 to $300,000 in contributions from followers of the rabbi.

1 reply
  1. Joe Levin
    Joe Levin says:

    Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto, head of the Shuvu Yisrael sect, is to start his one year jail sentence on Tuesday, but a decision on Sunday ordered that he serve his time at the medical center of the Israel Prison Service (IPS) due to his health condition.

    Pinto, who was convicted of trying to give bribes to police Brig. Gen. Efraim Bracha, petitioned his sentence on health grounds but had his request thrown out by the court, which reasoned he could receive appropriate medical care while serving his sentence.

    It was decided on Sunday that Pinto requires ongoing medical supervision, and therefore he will be imprisoned at the IPS medical center, located in the Ramle Prison compound, reports Channel 2.

    Pinto’s case has long been delayed on medical grounds. Last October he collapsed at the entrance to a plane set to take him back to Israel from New York to stand trial in his corruption case.

    It was in fact the second time he collapsed on his way to trial. Last April he flew from New York to Israel to stand trial, but apparently suffered a heart attack on the plane and was brought directly to the hospital before returning to New York for medical treatment.

    Pinto’s followers said last October that he suffers from cancer, that he underwent several surgeries causing him to lose 30 kilograms (66 pounds), and that he has been greatly weakened as a result.

    Aside from Pinto, former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is to begin his jail sentence on Monday, serving 19-months for bribery and obstruction of justice. Olmert is to enjoy deluxe prison conditions.

    IPS commissioner Lt. Gen. Ofra Klinger on Sunday morning addressed the high-profile incoming prisoners, issuing a letter to all ISA prisons.

    “We work without discriminating based on religion, gender, ethnicity or public standing,” wrote Klinger. “In the coming days we will take in to jail facilities senior Israeli public figures. We will not deal with their acts, the legal system has already dealt with that and sentenced them. We will deal with our mission – to do our duty with skill, professionalism and discretion.”

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