Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein has decided on Wednesday to adopt the state attorney’s recommendation and charge Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto with bribery. Rabbi Pinto is expected to be indicted in the next few days, and the counts will include interfering in a police investigation, bribing officials, harassing a witness and money laundering.
The charges will be pressed following a long campaign on the part of the accused and his attorneys to avoid his indictment, a campaign that included, according to the prosecution, an attempt to reach a plea bargain using incriminating material against the commander of special cases unit Lahav 433, Menashe Arbiv, who has meanwhile retired from the police.
Rabbi Pinto will be charged with giving a $200 thousand bribe to Commander Ephraim Bracha, head of the police national fraud unit a year ago, in exchange for information regarding the investigation of the not-for-profit Chazon Yeshaia (Isaiah’s Vision), headed by Rabbi pinto. At the time, Commander Bracha informed his superiors about the bribe attempt, and will likely be a key witness for the prosecution.
The rabbi’s attorneys told the press that they will present their response in due time, and that they found AG Weinstein’s decision to go ahead with the indictment “questionable.”
The “Shuva Israel” institutions, which are run by Rabbi Pinto, released the following statement: “We believe completely in the Rabbi’s righteousness, and in the coming days will expose to the public the entire litany of events in this case since 2010. Back then, rabbi Pinto was the victim of blackmail and threats in the United States. When this entire affair from that time on is exposed, the public will be able to judge who is the accuser and who the accused.”
According to Walla, Rabbi Pinto has disappeared in recent weeks, and no one in his network of institutions, in Israel and in the U.S. knows where he is. Rumors have it that he’s been teaching Torah to his followers in Texas, Los Angeles or New York City. Other rumors suggest he is back in Israel.
Another source suggested he was in Morocco, “where they show him more respect.”