Senior Police Officer Commits Suicide

Former National Fraud Unit chief Lt. Commander Ephraim Bracha takes his own life after his name was implicated in Pinto corruption case.

Tova Dvorin , | updated: 11:18 AM

Ephraim Bracha
Ephraim Bracha
Hadas Parush/Flash 90

The Israel Police announced the tragic suicide of Lt. Commander Ephraim Bracha on Sunday, the head of the police's National Fraud Unit who became the center of the Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto corruption scandal.

Bracha, a Modi'in resident who was married with four children, was 55 when he died. He was widely considered to be one of the most senior officials in the Israel Police. 

He was found lifeless in his car on Sunday morning, according to Channel 2, after he told his wife early Sunday he needed to go outside for a moment to "get some air." 

After he did not return or answer his cell phone, his wife turned to Bracha's close friend, Lt. Commander Avi Noyman, the Chief Officer of the Education department in the Israel Police. 

Noyman mobilized the Modi'in police force, and after a long search, found his car parked on Emek Ha'elah street, with Bracha lifeless inside. The street is near Modi'in's industrial area and is less than a kilometer from his home. 

Magen David Adom (MDA) medics reached the site and attempted to perform life-saving procedures on Bracha, but eventually pronounced him dead at the scene. 

Victim of libel?

Bracha's reputation was skewered after he was implicated in the Rabbi Pinto corruption case, even though he was cleared of all charges. 

Pinto allegedly attempted to bribe Bracha with $200,000 for information about a pending police investigation into the Hazon Yeshaya charity organization, which Pinto was rumored to be closely involved with. 

Bracha immediately reported the incident to his superiors, prompting a separate investigation against Rabbi Pinto himself - but his name was still tainted by the process. 

That investigation revealed that Pinto allegedly tried to bribe several other officers for information about the case against Hazon Yeshaya. 

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 Haaretz article.

Pinto was later sentenced to one year in prison earlier this year for his involvement in the scandal, as well as in a separate case involving the alleged bribing of Lahav 433 officer Menashe Arbiv.