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Former Rabbinic Aide Charged with Fraud

An Israeli with political influence in the U.S. has been arrested on suspicion of fraud, possible extortion.
First Publish: 8/18/2012, 11:23 PM

Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto
Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto
חברון

A former rabbinic aide in the United States has been arrested on fraud charges, the New York Times reports. Ofer Biton, 39, is believed to have fraudulently obtained money used in a bid to get a permanent visa.

Biton applied for a permanent visa in 2010 under rules stating that immigrants who have significant investments in America may be eligible to remain in the country.

Investigators now say that the $500,000 Biton said he put into a new business in the U.S. was not a loan from a family friend, as he had claimed, but rather was obtained dishonestly.

The complaint hints that Biton may have extorted the money. He was already under suspicion of having extorted money from Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto. Biton was formerly Rabbi Pinto’s top aide at the Shuva Israel yeshiva.

He and alleged accomplice Ronn Torossian have come under suspicion of having embezzled millions of dollars from the yeshiva in addition to extorting money from Rabbi Pinto. Both men have formerly denied any wrongdoing.

The report noted that Biton “has also emerged as a key figure in the 2009-10 Congressional campaign of Representative Michael G. Grimm.” Grimm responded to the scandal by saying he had complied with all campaign laws.