Israel Police have taken the unusual step of assigning bodyguards to fraud unit officers who investigated the bribery allegations against Sefardi haredi rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto while the state’s attorneys who prosecuted him have been advised to take special security precautions.
Above: Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto
Top Cops Get Bodyguards Ahead Of Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto Appeal Ruling
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
Israel Police have taken the unusual step of assigning bodyguards to fraud unit officers who investigated the bribery allegations against Sefardi haredi kabbalist Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto while the state’s attorneys who prosecuted him have been advised to take special security precautions, Ha’aretz reported.
The High Court is expected to rule on Pinto’s appeal of his plea bargain sentence in the coming days.
“There is no concrete information of a specific individual who may be targeted, but there is reason to believe that this could happen. This has required us to take preventive measures and warn people,” a source familiar with the situation told Ha’artz.
Several months ago, Pinto admitted to bribing a top cop with hundreds of thousands of dollars after cops caught the money exchange on tape. (Pinto used his wife as as a bagman.) Pinto was convicted of attempted bribery and obstruction of justice and got a sweetheart sentence of only one year in prison and a fine of 1 million shekels ($258,000).
But now Pinto wants the sentence – which he has not yet begun to serve – reduced to probation and has repeated violated his plea agreement by insisting he is innocent and by making wild accusations against others. His followers recently assaulted press photographers outside a High Court hearing on the case. Court security and police, unprepared for the violence even though it had been threatened in the days before that hearing, failed to stop the assaults.
Pinto, a great-grandson of the Baba Sali, the late Sefardi haredi kabbalist, is said to be worth tens of millions of dollars, most it made by selling blessings and advice for cash. But Pinto is also linked to the looting of the Hazon Yeshaya charity. Millions of dollars of food donations earmarked for elderly Holocaust survivors were alleged stolen by Pinto’s associates and sold on the black market. They allegedly pocketed the money and are believed to have directed a large chunk of it to Pinto. It was information on the Hazon Yeshaya case that Pinto sought when he tried to bribe the senior police officer.
In 2012, the head of the police team investigating Pinto received a bodyguard after Pinto allegedly threatened him in open court. Pinto’s entourage denied Pinto made a threat. Instead, they claimed he tried to calm the situation and even told his followers to avoid violence.
Among Pinto’s close associates is a former porn distributor now involved with an unlicensed hotel in New York City. Pinto is also said to be close to several leading organized crime figures, including alleged Mob boss Shalom Domrani. On a recently released audiotape of a call between Pinto and Domrani, Pinto can be heard encouraging Domrani to relocate to New York City. Pinto promises to get Domrani – who is currently facing serious legal issues in Israel – a “10-year” US visa.