Former Israeli Anti-fraud Chief Sentenced to Jail Over Corruption Charges

Menashe Arbiv will spend four months in prison and 200 hours of community service for failing to report bribe offers he had received from a powerful rabbi

Menashe Arbiv at the Magistrate Court in Rishon Letzion.
Motti Milrod

Police Maj. Gen. (ret.) Menashe Arbiv, former commander of Lahav 433, the police anti-fraud unit, was sentenced Wednesday to a suspended four months in prison and to 200 hours of community service for failing to report ties he had with Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto, who was jailed for bribery, as well as two offers of bribery he had received from Pinto. Arbiv also failed to report that Pinto was aware of the investigation being conducted into his affairs.

As part of a plea bargain Arbiv made with the police’s internal investigations department, he admitted to not fulfilling a formal obligation, and the charges of fraud and breach of trust were dropped. The two sides could not agree on a sentence. The state asked for community service while Arbiv’s attorneys Yehoshua Reznik and Yinon Sartel asked that his conviction be struck, with a lighter sentence of community service imposed instead.

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The president of the Magistrate Court in Rishon Letzion, Judge Einat Ron, determined that “Arbiv’s actions undermined the police’s image and the public’s trust in it. The high office he held caused a larger impact on public trust,” she said. She denied his attorneys’ request to strike his conviction but accepted their position regarding the sentence, ruling for a lighter one than the prosecution had asked for.

Pinto was the one who implicated Arbiv, in an attempt to lighten his own sentence, following Pinto’s offer of a bribe to the late Brig. Gen. Effi Bracha. Pinto made a deal with state prosecutors, in which he’d give information about Arbiv in exchange for them requesting a one-year sentence. According to the charges Arbiv confessed to, he sought the assistance of Pinto and his associates in, among other things, finding work for his son.

FILE Photo: Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto in court, 2015.
Shlomi Yosef

In the course of their acquaintance Pinto offered Arbiv financial help, starting when the latter was the commander of the Tel Aviv District police, and later, when he was the police representative in the U.S. Pinto later offered Arbiv $60,000 for speaking to then-head of the police’s investigations division, Yoav Segalovich, about Pinto’s investigation.

The Welfare Ministry’s probation service, which assesses the degree of responsibility assumed by people on trial before recommending a sentence, recommended a favorable response to the request to cancel Arbiv’s conviction and to sentencing him to working for the public, which differs from community service, which is tantamount to a prison sentence.

In her decision, Rom wrote that “not reporting and hiding facts went beyond causing damage to a particular investigation – it was a serious betrayal of the trust placed in the accused by his commanders and the organization he worked for, an organization charged with enforcement of the law and with ensuring public security. The accused was familiar with the inner workings of police investigations, making him well aware of the significance of not reporting and its ramifications. His actions continued for a long period. On several occasions he could and should have reported his acquaintance with Rabbi Pinto and the nature of their relationship, but he failed to do so. He maintained his contact with Pinto and his people.”

According to the prosecutor at the hearing, which took place two months ago, “even though the accused was updated about suspicions that Pinto was secretly running a non-profit organization and was trying to obstruct an investigation against him, and was asked by the head of the fraud department to help in the investigation in his role as police representative in Washington, the accused did not see fit to report his relations with Pinto, and even continued to host Pinto and his wife at a hotel.”

Arbiv, 59, is currently a businessman. He set up a company dealing with security and strategy management. He expressed concern that he would be unable to work as a private investigator if he were convicted of a criminal offense. The judge related to this, saying a conviction would not necessarily rule out a license, and that this would be considered by a licensing committee.

In an earlier hearing Arbiv said he was no criminal. “Between not reporting and crime there is a big gap. I never hurt my organization or system. I served in the police for 37 years without blemish. I never received or gave Pinto and his people any benefits or information about my work. I was not one of his associates.”