Originally published at T.O.T.
Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto ordered a New York City police officer to arrest his top aide’s business rival, according to allegations in a civil complaint filed in New York State Supreme Court on February 19.
Tomer Shohat seeks unspecified damages from his former investment Partner Benzion Suky, Suky’s brother Eran Suki, synagogue operator Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto and NYPD detective Eric Patino after he said they conspired against him and threatened bodily harm after discovering their alleged mismanagement of the Metro Apartments at 440 W. 41st St., where Shohat, Suky and a group of others had invested $10.5 million.
Shohat alleged that after he discovered Suky was improperly diverting funds from the property, Suky, Suki and Pinto threatened him with bodily harm and enlisted Patino to arrest him on false charges.
Pinto, a powerful Israeli Rabbi, is at the center of an unrelated scandal that’s made headlines in Israel in recent weeks. Haaretz reported on February 21 that authorities are preparing to indict Pinto on charges of bribing and threatening Israeli police.
“Defendant Suky willfully and fraudulently filed a complaint as against the plaintiff alleging that plaintiff had stolen valuable property, had assumed another identity to obtain goods, had wrongfully gained access to the Metro Apartments’ computers, was in possession of stolen property and various other allegations,” the complaint said. “Defendants Suky, [Pinto] and Suki then arranged for their co-conspirator, defendant Patino, to arrest the plaintiff and charge him with crimes he had not committed.”
Shohat represented himself and a group of others, including Suky, in investing $10.5 million in the Metro Apartments during 2012, according to the complaint.
When he suspected that Suky was misappropriating money and that the property was being mismanaged, he traveled to New York from Israel to investigate, allegedly discovering large chunks of cash were missing from Metro’s coffers. Some of the money allegedly went toward personal loans that Suky took and then attributed to Metro, and Suky also operated the building as an illegal hotel, renting apartments on a daily basis without a permit, according to the complaint.
When Shohat approached Suky and his friend, business partner and alleged “gatekeeper” Pinto about his findings, they allegedly instructed him not to go to a lawyer or the police, and threatened him with bodily harm should he continue looking into the matter. When he failed to cease his investigation, the defendants allegedly suggested that Shohat return to his home country of Israel because they could no longer protect him from harm in the U.S., according to the complaint.
Patino allegedly arrested Shohat after first offering to set him free on the condition that he turn over his computer and all of the information he had gathered in his investigation. After Shohat was released from jail, where his passport was allegedly confiscated, he claims Patino threatened him with further charges if he visited Metro Apartments, despite Shohat’s stake in the property.
The charges against Shohat were dismissed in April by the district attorney’s office.
“As a result of defendants’ conduct, plaintiff was falsely arrested and imprisoned; plaintiff’s reputation was harmed; plaintiff suffered emotional harm and mental anguish and distress; could not attempt to his usual duties; and plaintiff has been otherwise damaged,” the complaint said.
Representatives for the defendants could not immediately be reached Thursday.
The plaintiff is represented by David Jaroslawicz of Jaroslawicz & Jaros LLC.
Counsel information for the defendants was not immediately available.
The case is Tomer Shohat v. Benzion Suky et al., case number 151446/2014 in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of New York.