Former Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, who is suspected of a number of corruption-related crimes, was allegedly caught on tape by his former partner in crime turned state’s witness attempting to obstruct the police investigation against him, Channel 2 News reported on Friday.
“You snitched on me,” Metzger allegedly told his former partner, who testified against him to the police and then recorded their dramatic conversations on several occasions.
“You were the state’s witness, your career is over, who wants a ‘moyser’ [snitch], tell me?” Metzger said.
The former chief rabbi is suspected of accepting bribes, fraud, and breach of trust, as well as serious counts of fraudulent receipt of goods or services, stealing from clients, ties to criminal activity, money laundering, and tax violations, all while serving as chief rabbi and exploiting his position.
Metzger is suspected of having taken a total of some NIS 10 million ($2.6 million) in bribe money through his alleged crimes, of which he reportedly pocketed some NIS 7 million ($1.8 million).
In the audio tapes, Metzger can also allegedly be heard instructing the state’s witness to lie to the police while promising him a considerable sum of money in exchange. Metzger was unaware that his former partner had already been recruited by the police and was recording their conversation.
In February, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein decided to adopt the recommendations of the State Attorney’s Office and the Jerusalem district attorney and was considering indicting Metzger on criminal charges, pending a hearing.
Authorities suspect that in most of the cases, Metzger allegedly used a close associate to pick up the illicit money. Because of their close relationship, and because of his part in the criminal activity, Metzger allegedly shared 10 percent of the money with his envoy.
Metzger’s attorneys, Professor David Libai and Elad Rett, said in response to Weinstein’s decision: “We have received a list of Rabbi Metzger’s alleged crimes from the attorney general and have been invited to a hearing. The rabbi denies the allegations against him.”
“According to [Metzger], he did not accept bribes, not via the state’s witness and not via anyone else, and did not launder money,” the lawyers said. “We will argue our position on the allegations against the rabbi at the hearing.”