Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto and his chief aide and relative, former pornographer Ben Zion Suky, have filed a $30 million lawsuit in a New York State court against Israeli TV production house Keshet and journalist Ilana Dayan.
Sefardi Kabbalist Whose Charity Allegedly Stole From Holocaust Survivors Sues Network That Helped Expose Him
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto and his chief aide and relative, former pornographer Ben Zion Suky, have filed a $30 million lawsuit in a New York state court against Israeli TV production house Keshet and journalist Ilana Dayan, the Jerusalem Post reported.
Pinto, the scandal-plagued Sefardi haredi kabbalist linked by some to top Israeli organized crime figures, is also close to some Israeli politicians and business elite.
He is criminally accused in Israel for a string of crimes, including bribery of top police officials, money laundering, and looting the charity, Shuva Israel, mentioned by Pinto in his New York lawsuit.
Pinto and Suky claim Dayan showed “malice and ill will” toward him and Shuva Israel in her report.
Pinto and his associates are accused by Israel’s charity regulator of looting Shuva Israel by taking large bulk food donations earmarked for elderly Holocaust survivors, selling them on the black market and pocketing the cash for their own personal use. It is the police investigation into this looting that caused Pinto to allegedly bribe two senior police officers.
One of those police bribery cases is proceeding toward trial – of the police officer, not Pinto.
But in the other case, the second senior police officer, Ephraim Bracha, reported the bribery attempt to his superiors, then wore a wire under their supervision and recorded Pinto’s wife handing him the equivalent of $200,000 in cash.
That case will reportedly be resolved by Pinto pleading guilty to reduced charges and getting an extremely light prison sentence – or no prison time at all – in exchange for his testimony against the first police officer, Menashe Arbiv, who allegedly accepted Pinto’s bribes.
Earlier this month, Pinto was allowed to travel to the US after agreeing to wave extradition and voluntarily return to Israel when he needed to testify and when the time to enter his guilty plea arrives.
Pinto was named by Forbes as one the top ten richest rabbis in Israel with a net worth in the tens of millions of dollars.
Even so, Pinto and Suky are suing Dayan for – allegedly maliciously – discussing Pinto’s wealth, the business losses he allegedly helped cause, and his alleged criminal ties and criminality.
“In an effort to tarnish, diminish, and destroy the reputation of Rabbi Pinto and his Shuva, the defendants Keshet and Dayan engaged in a course of conduct which instead of seeking the truth solely provided former followers of the Rabbi and Shuva to gain their revenge against plaintiffs for said defendants alleged failed business losses,” the suit reportedly claims, also insisting that "with total disregard for the truth, [Dayan, the producers and the network] forged ahead and produced a show that instead provided the public with an expose solely geared to destroy, Rabbi Pinto, Shuva, and Suky.”
That the Israeli TV network Dayan’s report appeared on and that some (or even many or most) of the people interviewed may reside in New York or have been interviewed there are normally not enough to legally claim New York State jurisdiction. In the same way, that a satellite or cable TV provider airs a foreign network would generally not be enough to give New York State jurisdiction unless the financial arrangement is directly between a New York State company and the Israeli network or between two New York State companies. But in the latter case, Pinto would need to sue one or both of those New York State companies.
In February, a lawsuit was filed by a real estate investor in New York against Pinto, who lives about half of the year in Manhattan and whose charity has property there. The suit alleges that Pinto had an NYPD detective he had a business and personal relationship with arrest the real estate investor, threaten him and try to confiscate the investor’s computer to destroy information that allegedly showed that Suky had stolen money from a property the investor had invested in.
The detective then filed a grand larceny charge against the investor and a court took the investor’s passport.
The charge was quickly dropped, but the NYPD has reportedly declined to comment on the incident.
Just days after Dayan’s exposé was broadcast, it was removed from the network’s website.
The network, Keshet, said it stands behind Dayan’s report in its entirety.
“We stand behind every word that was published in the season finale investigation. We will be happy to clarify Mr. Suki’s claims in court. We are not certain that such a clarification will be in his favor,” the network said.