State May Cancel Plea Deal With Absent Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto

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Rabbi Yoshiyahu PintoCredit: Ilan Assayag

The State Prosecutor’s Office is considering canceling the plea bargain it had signed with Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto, because Pinto failed to appear for hearings and did not offer good cause for his absence, prosecutors told the court yesterday.

Pinto was charged with attempted bribery of a senior police officer, Brig. Gen. Ephraim Bracha, after reaching a plea bargain in which Pinto agreed to provide evidence that he bribed an more senior officer, Menashe Arviv, the former head of the elite Lahav 433 unit. Before the plea bargain was agreed, Pinto faced charges of bribery, interfering with an investigation and making threats, in a complicated case that began in 2011 with allegations of embezzlement at a now-defunct charity run by an associate of Pinto’s.

Prosecutors yesterday asked Tel Aviv District Court Judge Oded Mudrik to issue a writ of habeus corpus requiring Pinto to return from overseas and to forfeit the 2-million-shekel ($49,500) guarantee he gave the court.

Mudrik did not rule on the request, but he instructed Pinto’s lawyers to submit detailed medical records to support their client’s claim of being incapable of traveling to Israel for medical reasons.

Prosecutors said that Pinto had surgery on February 19 and was expected to return to Israel after a one-month recovery period. Prosecutor Racheli Hazan-Feldman said Pinto simply failed to appear, adding that instead of medical documents attesting to his condition he submitted receipts and irrelevant documents. She and assistant district attorney Nava Schiller told the court they lost trust in Pinto after he requested a stay of proceedings in October to care for his sick wife, but traveled with her from the United States to Bulgaria.

“Had I known this would happen, I wouldn’t have let Pinto leave the country,” Mudrik said yesterday.

“The medical certificates speak for themselves. Pinto’s surgeon is one of the leaders in his field ... a one-month postponement is not an extreme request,” Pinto’s attorney, Eyal Rosovsky, said, adding that the conditions were not met for a writ of habeus corpus or the confiscation of guarantees.

Mudrik allowed that Pinto may have good medical cause for his failure to appear, saying the new documents he requested from the defense would be given to medical experts to render a decision. He gave Rosovsky a week to submit the documents and stayed the arraignment by one month.

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