Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto was questioned yesterday [Oct. 11] by the police on suspicion of having tried to bribe chief of the Police Investigation Division Brig.-Gen. Ephraim Bracha.
The rabbi is suspected of having offered the officer $200,000 in exchange for information about an investigation pertaining to his affairs. Bracha informed his supervisors, who decided to stage a sting operation and pretend to accept the money. Escorted by detectives and wearing a wire, the officer received $100,000 in cash from Pinto, in exchange for which he was to provide information about the investigation into Hazon Yeshaya, a charity organization.
Bracha was poised to collect the remaining $100,000 yesterday. At this stage, however, the head of the investigations unit ordered the operation to be discontinued. The rabbi and his wife were taken into custody and questioned. Following their interrogation, the two were released and are expected to be questioned again within the next few days.
Brig.-Gen. Ephraim Bracha ranks third in the hierarchy of the Police Investigations unit. Having previously served as deputy chief of the National Fraud Investigations unit, Bracha was able, as noted, to record his conversations with Rabbi Pinto and his wife, which suggest that the rabbi had tried to bribe the senior officer.
Hailing from Tel-Aviv’s Central Police Department, Bracha earned the nickname “Rabbi” for his skullcap and due to his ordination. He enjoys high regard in the police for his ingenuity in conducting investigations. Recently, his name came up as a possible candidate to become chief of one of the National Police units.
Attorney: He did nothing wrong
The affair began several weeks ago, when the senior officer informed his supervisors of Rabbi Pinto's attempt to bribe him. The rabbi, Bracha related, intended to give him big sums of money in exchange for a tip-off from the investigation into the rabbi’s affairs.
Following the information provided by Bracha, the police decided to launch an undercover inquiry led by its chief, Gen. Yoav Segalovich.
Bracha was instructed to continue his contact with the rabbi. Once incriminating evidence against the rabbi and his wife was gathered, the police decided to call the rabbi for a extended questioning at the Lahav 433 headquarters in the city of Lod.
It was only in the wee hours of the night that the couple was released. The rabbi’s attorney, Yaron Lipshes of the Caspi law firm, said in a statement: “Rabbi Pinto answered all the police questions and provided all the information he has in order to further the investigation as quickly as possible and refute the baseless allegations leveled against him. Rabbi Pinto is confident that once the facts come to light, the police will realize that he had done nothing wrong.”
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