Extent of Rabbi's Bribes to Police Revealed
Jerusalem Magistrates Court Judge Abbas A'asi accepted on Sunday the Police Investigation Department's request to remove the gag order on the case against senior police officer Menashe Arbiv.
The press has been permitted to reveal that during the course of the investigation, it was found that associates of Rabbi Yeshayahu Pinto helped Arbiv's wife and son obtain visas to the US, presumably in exchange for information.
Arbiv also received $2,000 per month and a 700,000 shekel discount on a house in north Tel Aviv, the very seat of the housing crisis.
Rabbi Pinto's associates also claim they helped Arbiv in the course of his role as Israel's representative policeman to the US.
The gag order was lifted after police appealed to the court on grounds that in light of other revelations about the case published over the weekend, the gag order was more or less ineffective and thus, null and void - even if lifting the gag order could impede the still-ongoing investigation.
On Wednesday, the Attorney General's Office revealed that it is going to file an indictment against Rabbi Pinto, who is being tried for corruption. Pinto allegedly attempted to bribe senior police officer Ephraim Bracha with $200,000 for information about a pending police investigation into the Hazon Yeshaya charity organization, which Pinto was allegedly closely involved with.
Bracha immediately reported the incident to his superiors, prompting a separate investigation against Rabbi Pinto himself.
That investigation revealed that Pinto allegedly tried to bribe several other officers for information about the case against Hazon Yeshaya, including Arbiv. The charity, which was supposed to have provided millions of dollars to Holocaust survivors and ran a popular soup kitchen and volunteer network in Jerusalem, closed in 2012 under allegations of fraud.
The allegations claim that several members of the charity - including Pinto - stole much of the food donated to the kitchen and sold it for "tens of millions of dollars," according to a 2012 Ha'aretz article. As such, Pinto will also be indicted for other charges, including obstruction of justice and money laundering relating to the case.
In January, it was revealed that Pinto may also be involved in an FBI investigation against Congressman Michael Grimm. Information about Grimm's case reveals that the US may have been involved in conducting part of the investigation into Rabbi Pinto himself, with Israeli cooperation; it is unclear whether or not they helped reveal his involvement in obtaining Arbiv's family members' US visas.