Rabbi Pinto Files Petition Against Police

Rabbi at the center of corruption scandal claims officer he attempted to bribe violated the law by 'playing along' with his entreaties.

Tova Dvorin ,

Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto
Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto

The Pinto corruption case complicated yet again on Sunday, after the prime defendant - Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto - has filed a petition calling for a criminal investigation into his accuser through the rights group Ometz.

Ometz filed a petition to the High Court for Justice against Brig. Gen. Ephraim Bracha, the head of the National Fraud Squad whom Pinto allegedly attempted to bribe with $200,000 about a corruption case being levied against Pinto's charity, Hazon Yeshaya. 

Bracha immediately reported the incident to his superiors, prompting a separate investigation against Rabbi Pinto himself - and now, Bracha believes Pinto is attempting to take revenge. 

"This case has made the law enforcement a tool in the hands of a criminal's desire for vengeance," Bracha, through attorney Efrat Nahmani Bar, responded to the charges. Walla! News printed the response Sunday. "Despite Pinto's obvious motives to get even, to hurt him, and to get back at him, an investigation was launched into Pinto's claims and they have found to be without substance." 

"Pinto's words do not create a single point of evidentiary basis to justify even a minimal investigation in this case," he added. "[Opening a criminal investigation is] rewarding a sinner and fulfilling his plan to get even with his accuser through the law." 

The response also noted that Bracha faced difficulty in incriminating the Rabbi, as Bracha himself was among his followers. Nonetheless, it maintains, "Bracha stated that he told the head of the Fraud Unit [of the bribe attempt] himself, and to the exclusion of all others." The senior officer also embarked on a thorough investigation of the matter, contacting the FBI and examining Pinto's and his family's bank accounts before proceeding, the response stressed. 

The senior officer also flatly rejected claims that he did accept bribes from Rabbi Pinto, except from within the framework of the undercover investigation against him, which was coordinated with the Israel Police.

"Bracha refused and said that, as a police officer, he does not take bribes," the statement concludes. "Pinto then asked if the money could be given to his wife instead, and Bracha refused." 

This is not the first stunt Pinto has pulled since being accused of bribery. The rabbi admitted involvement in the same bribery case in a September plea deal, but has nonetheless been highly vocal over his innocence, claiming in hyperbolic statements to his followers that the verdict has "stabbed them with a million knives" and claiming he is "the most persecuted in this generation." 

The statements were later found to be violations of the plea deal, causing three of his most high-profile attorneys to quit the complex case earlier this month