Celebrity Rabbi Accepts Plea Bargain in Police Bribery Case

Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto will admit to bribing an Israeli police officer in 2012 for access to his police file, officials say.

Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto
Rabbi Yoshiyahu PintoCredit: Ilan Assayag

A multimillionaire Israeli celebrity rabbi with a following in the U.S. has accepted a plea bargain in a high-profile bribery case and could face a year in prison, an Israeli official said on Wednesday, bringing closer an end to one of the rabbi’s various legal sagas.

As part of the plea bargain, the official said, Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto will admit to bribing a senior Israeli police officer in 2012 for access to his police file.

Israeli prosecutors will seek a year-long jail sentence for Pinto, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity pending an official announcement.

Pinto is considered one of Israel’s wealthiest rabbis, amassing his fortune while serving as spiritual guru to the rich and powerful in Israel, New York, and elsewhere in the world. The Israeli edition of Forbes Magazine ranked him in 2012 as Israel’s seventh richest rabbi, with an estimated net worth of about $19 million.

But the celebrity and riches also attracted the watchful eyes of law enforcement both in Israel and the U.S.

In Israel, according to local media reports, the police began tracking Pinto after he approached Efraim Bracha, formerly the head of the investigations department in the Israeli police who was reportedly an adherent of the rabbi, and offered him a large sum of money in exchange for information on an investigation involving him.

That investigation concerned suspicions of a Pinto aide embezzling donations to one of the rabbi’s charitable institutions and selling food intended for Holocaust survivors, according to reports. Israeli police spokeswoman Luba Samri would only say the case remained under investigation.

In the separate bribery case, Israel’s Justice Ministry said Menashe Arbiv, while serving as head of the national police’s elite anti-corruption unit, received “benefits” from associates of Pinto. Arbiv had previously served as Israel’s police representative in the U.S., coordinating with U.S. security organizations on investigations.

In New York, Pinto’s congregation has been connected to a U.S. probe into Rep. Michael Grimm, a Republican congressman from New York, for possible campaign finance violations.

A spokesman for Pinto could not be reached.

Click the alert icon to follow topics:



Automatic approval of subscriber comments.

Subscribe today and save 40%

Already signed up? LOG IN


Palestinians search through the rubble of a building in which Khaled Mansour, a top Islamic Jihad militant was killed following an Israeli airstrike in Rafah, southern Gaza strip, on Sunday.

Gazans Are Tired of Pointless Wars and Destruction, and Hamas Listens to Them

Trump and Netanyahu at the White House in Washington, in 2020.

Three Years Later, Israelis Find Out What Trump Really Thought of Netanyahu

German soldier.

The Rival Jewish Spies Who Almost Changed the Course of WWII

Rio. Not all Jewish men wear black hats.

What Does a Jew Look Like? The Brits Don't Seem to Know

Galon. “I’m coming to accomplish a specific mission: to increase Meretz’s strength and ensure that the party will not tread water around the electoral threshold. If Meretz will be large enough, it will be the basis for a Jewish-Arab partnership.” Daniel Tchetchik

'I Have No Illusions About Ending the Occupation, but the Government Needs the Left'

Soldiers using warfare devices made by the Israeli defense electronics company Elbit Systems.

Russia-Ukraine War Catapults Israeli Arms Industry to Global Stage