Scandal-plagued rabbi-to-the-Stars Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto managed to slip past a camera crew and correspondent from the ABC News program — but his security guards weren't nearly as silky. Pinto's hired muscle allegedly roughed up "Nightline" correspondent Dan Harris and a female producer from the program as they waited outside his synagogue. Pinto, who's in his late 30s, reportedly puts death curses on his critics.
Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto escaped ABC News media outside synagogue, but his security didn't
Gatecrasher • New York Daily News
Sunday, the rabbi ducked "Nightline."
Rabbi-to-the-Stars Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto managed to slip past a camera crew and correspondent from the ABC News program — but his security guards weren't nearly as silky.
Sources tell us Pinto's hired muscle roughed up "Nightline" correspondent Dan Harris and a female producer from the program as they waited outside the rabbi's E. 58th St. synagogue.
"It was a handful of security guys who came across as pretty thuggish," says one source familiar with the situation. "They were pushing and shoving, which was totally out of line because the crew was on a public sidewalk."
As the Daily News has reported, Pinto, who's in his late 30s, is the self-proclaimed kabbalah scholar who reportedly puts death curses on his critics.
He is quite influential in the city's real estate industry and has advised disgraced former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner and the Miami Heat's LeBron James.
Pinto is no stranger to controversy. In March, the Forward published an investigation of the rabbi's not-for-profit organization Mosdot Shuva Israel. The story noted "the contrast" between the rabbi's reputation for "modest living" and, for instance, the $6.5 million townhouse near Sutton Place where he lives.
The Forward also reported that Mosdot Shuva Israel "faces financial problems."
Although it's unclear if "Nightline" is chasing the same story, our first source says the show is "looking to see if there's any "disconnect" between the rabbi's public image and private dealings.
The source adds that Harris, who also co-anchors the weekend "Good Morning America," has sought to interview Pinto for "quite some time," but the rabbi has ignored his requests.
So on Sunday, Harris, his producer and a camera crew stationed themselves outside Shuva Israel synagogue in hopes of buttonholing Pinto before he conducted pre-Rosh Hashanah services at 8 p.m.
They never got their chance. Another insider says that after keeping his congregation waiting until approximately 10 p.m., the rabbi slipped past the camera crew and through a side entrance of the synagogue.
Around the same time, the insider says the rabbi's security team "repeatedly pushed" Harris and a producer "away from the building."
An ABC News spokesman said the network does not comment on stories that are in progress.
A spokesman for the rabbi did not respond to our questions before deadline.
[Hat Tip: Ruthie.]