The Supreme Court on Thursday blocked Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto’s request for an early release eight months into a one-year jail sentence for attempted bribery.
It’s ruling upheld the Lod District Court’s ruling on September 29 which had overturned the Parole Board’s earlier to grant Pinto the early release.
Pinto had vehemently slammed the prosecution and the Lod District Court for treating him more harshly than some other public figures who were given an early release, but now has no further appeal he can file.
The board had delayed its order so that the state prosecution could appeal and the entire process was frozen once the Lod District Court ruled against Pinto.
The Supreme Court agreed with the Lod District Court that the board’s decision did not fully take into account the potential continued danger that Pinto presented of committing additional financial crimes in the future.
Pinto’s one-year sentence followed a failed legal and public relations campaign to avoid any prison time, including cutting a plea bargain with the prosecution to turn state’s witness against Menashe Arbiv, the former head of the Israel Police’s Lahav 443 anti-corruption unit.
After the Supreme Court denied his original January 5 appeal to completely strike down his jail sentence, he entered Nitzan Prison in Ramle in February.
Tel Aviv District Court Judge Oded Mudrik sentenced Pinto to his one-year prison sentence as part of a plea bargain in May 2015 along with a NIS 1 million fine.
Pinto tried to bribe the police’s National Fraud Squad head Ephraim Bracha with $200,000 to get information from him about a criminal investigation into the Hazon Yeshaya foundation Pinto was running.
Bracha reported Pinto’s actions to his superiors, then continued to gather evidence on the rabbi.
In summer 2015, Bracha committed suicide following a public campaign against him on a number of fronts, including by followers of Pinto via social media.
Pinto is the founder of the Shuva Israel Yeshiva and a well-known rabbi in both Israel and the US. He is also a descendant of two Sephardi rabbinical dynasties, Pinto and Abuhatzeira. Forbes has previously listed him as the seventh-richest rabbi in Israel.
After Mudrik’s sentencing Pinto to jail in May 2015, the prosecution declared that “even powerful people with connections still get justice for their deeds.”