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.