Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein announced on Wednesday he will indict Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto for trying to bribe a policeman.
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In the indictment, which will be filed in the next few days, Pinto is to be charged with attempting to bribe police Brig. Gen. Ephraim Bracha with $200,000. At the time Bracha headed the Israel Police’s investigations branch, and today he is the head of the police’s national fraud squad. In return for the money, Pinto wanted information from Bracha on the investigation being conducted against him on suspicion he was involved in fraud at the nonprofit organization Hazon Yeshaya he headed.
Weinstein said he had yet to make a decision in the case of police Maj. Gen Menashe Arviv, who announced this week he is leaving the force - after Pinto’s lawyers offered to provide incriminating information against him in return for a deal with prosecutors on the charges against the rabbi. Arviv was the commander of the Lahav 433 unit, often called the Israeli FBI.
“As to the investigation in the matter of Maj. Gen. Arviv, the decisions in the matter will be made later, with attention given to the overall circumstances of the matter, including the fact that Maj. Gen. Arviv announced his retirement from the police,” said Weinstein in an official statement.
The announcement of the indictment against Pinto had already been given to his lawyers Eli Zohar, Roy Blecher and Moshe Mazor last December by then-State Prosecutor Moshe Lador. But since then, Pinto’s lawyers approached Weinstein with the deal concerning a senior police officer who had accepted bribes from Pinto and his associates; at the time they did not name Arviv as the officer. In return, Weinstein agreed to grant Pinto immunity in the case and delay the indictment against him while the Justice Ministry department responsible for investigating police officers evaluated the information.
In early January the Justice Ministry investigators began examining the information from Pinto, and were told to complete the entire investigation, except for the questioning of Arviv under caution as a criminal suspect. The investigators found that the information justified opening a criminal investigation against Arviv, and at that point Pinto’s lawyers demanded that in return for the information he provided, the indictment against Pinto be canceled. However, no agreement was reached and Weinstein decided to indict Pinto.
Arviv’s announcement that he was leaving the police also changed the legal equation, returning the case against Pinto to the forefront. The investigation of Arviv will continue, separately from the Pinto case. But since the prosecution will need Pinto’s cooperation in any criminal case against Arviv, and as it won’t be forthcoming now that Pinto is to be indicted, it is possible Weinstein will make do with Arviv’s resignation from the police. The allegedly incriminating material against Arviv does not indicate he accepted bribes in the line of police duty, only that he acted improperly, according to sources in the State Prosecutor’s Office. Now that Arviv is outside the law enforcement system, it is of greater importance to deal with the source of the corruption: in their view, Pinto.
Pinto’s lawyers informed the prosecution on Wednesday that they were waiving his right to a hearing before the indictment is filed. “Rabbi Pinto’s response will be given, at length, at the appropriate place and time,” said the attorneys. They added that they did not intend to respond to reports in the media. “The last word in this matter has not been spoken,” they maintained.