State Attorney Shai Nitzan on Sunday announced that the Police Investigations Department has filed an indictment for breach of trust and violating a duty to report against former Lahav 433 police commander (known as the “Israeli FBI”) Menashe Arbiv with the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court.
On January 28, 2016, a statement from former Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein’s office said that Arbiv was suspected of having had inappropriately close relations with Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto from 2010-2013, including after the famous rabbi was under investigation for bribery.
However, Arbiv was given an extensive pre-indictment series of hearings to convince the state to drop the charges before the indictment was finally filed on Sunday.
Pinto himself served nearly a year of prison time for the bribery charge, being released in January 2017.
Th indictment describes the charges against Arbiv as follows: Contact between Arbiv and Pinto first started in 2010 when Pinto was active in Ashdod and in New York. Arbiv was in frequent contact with Pinto’s top aide Yossi Amos, as part of his efforts to have a strong international prominent rabbinic connection, while Pinto wanted a strong police connection.
Arbiv requested Pinto’s help to find his wife and son jobs in New York as well as help getting a discount with purchasing a residence in Savion Ramat Aviv.
Persons working for Pinto helped Arbiv’s wife find a job and paid $2,650 to help her get a US working visa.
Arbiv and a relative of his were also hosted multiple times at the Metro Hotel in New York, which was owned at the time by Pinto’s assistant Ben Zion Suki, without paying a standard rate. Instead, Arbiv left behind cash in an envelope as a self-estimate for payment of the room following the hotel officials’ refusal to accept full regular payment.
The economic and other arrangements between Arbiv and Pinto continued even after Arbiv learned, as head of Lahav 433, that Pinto was under criminal investigation.
Also, despite his knowledge of the probe against Pinto, Arbiv failed to fulfill his duty to report his connections to Pinto to those police working under him who were involved in the Pinto investigation.
Pinto eventually offered Arbiv a $60,000 bribe to make the investigation go away. While Arbiv refused the bribe, he once again failed to properly report the event to those investigating the rabbi.
When the FBI requested information about Pinto from the Israel Police for their separate criminal investigation of his US activities, Arbiv once again failed to disclose his relationship with Pinto to Israeli police officials handling the request and failed to recuse himself from overseeing the request.
Even when National Fraud Squad head Dep.-Ch. Ephraim Bracha in 2012 disclosed to Arbiv that Pinto had tried to bribe Bracha, Arbiv failed to disclose that Pinto had tried to bribe him as well.
Arbiv also perjured himself when he was interrogated by police about any connections he had with Pinto.
Pinto later cut a plea bargain with the state to turn state’s witness against Arbiv, leading to his one-year jail sentence.
Arbiv, whose was essentially the former head of the “Israeli FBI,” resigned from his post on February 9, 2014 over the scandal, though he continues to proclaim his innocence and says that Pinto is corrupt and manipulating the state.
In February 2014, Arbiv sent a letter to Weinstein rejecting many of the accusations as not only false, but impossible.
The letter referenced allegations that surfaced against Arbiv by Pinto and his followers, including that Pinto’s follower Ben Zion Suki paid for Arbiv to stay in a hotel in New York between June 9 and June 14, 2009.
Arbiv’s letter, drafted by his lawyer Gidon Fischer, provided what appeared to be a copy of Arbiv’s schedule during those days, indicating that he was meeting with then-president Shimon Peres in Washington, DC, and giving a speech to the Anti-Defamation League – also in Washington – during those days.