Israel’s celebrity Rabbi Pinto is headed for jail for bribing a cop
Mighty ‘mystic’ Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto, above, allegedly has extraordinary supernatural powers, ranging from the ability to read minds to creating successful business empires.
But, despite these powers, his desperate attempts to avoid a prison sentence for bribery have failed, and he’s is about to be jailed.
On September 17, 2014, Pinto was indicted on charges of attempting to bribe Ephraim Bracha of the Israeli national police in an attempt to gain information about the ongoing investigation of the financial activities of Hazon Yeshaya, a charitable organisation Pinto heads.
In 2015, the “guru to billionaires” was found guilty of bribery, attempted bribery, and obstruction of justice. He was sentenced to one year in prison, and fined a million shekels.
An appeal against the prison sentence on the basis of ill health was declined on January 5, 2016.
Last July Bracha, above, a former devotee of the celebrity rabbi, committed suicide after a hate campaign was launched against him by Pinto’s followers. According to this report:
The rabbi’s followers launched an entire industry of fatal, unbridled rumors regarding Bracha, and didn’t let up.
The suicide came five years after the mysterious death of “thuggish” Solomon Obstfeld, an ultra-Orthodox businessman who fell from his 19th-story Manhattan apartment in 2010. Obstfeld had reportedly been feuding with Pinto over a rental agreement gone wrong. The city’s medical examiner deemed the fall a suicide, though friends didn’t believe he would have killed himself.
Writing for The Daily Beast, Jay Michaelson said that Pinto is a “sage” whose followers include the leaders of Israel’s business elite. He the descendant of Moroccan Jewish saints, a Sephardic hero, and a master of Kabbalah, the ancient tradition of Jewish mysticism and magic. His net worth has been estimated at $19 million, not including the vast sums under the control of his various non-profit organisations.
But for a holy man, Pinto is surrounded by shady criminal elements, including outright crooks. In Israel, these include Yossi Harari, the head of the Ramat Amidar underworld gang, and mobster Shalom Domrani.
In the United States, they include Michael Grimm, the former Staten Island congressman convicted of tax evasion and perjury. Pinto was not directly implicated in Grimm’s crimes, but his close associates were; allegedly, they solicited donations for Grimm’s election campaign from Pinto’s network of followers in excess of legally allowable amounts.
There were also dubious characters within Pinto’s own organization. In 2011, The Jewish Daily Forward discovered that a top aide, Ben Zion Suky, had been a pornographer. Then they broke the news that Pinto’s Israeli charity ‘had spent tens of thousands on a high-end hotel, fine men’s clothing and jewelry, among other luxuries.’
Pinto’s empire began falling apart in 2011, when his former aide, Ofer Biton, began to turn against him, with the help of high-flying publicist Ronn Torossian. Torossian threatened Pinto’s organisation with a negative PR blitz, and then began to carry it out.
Meanwhile, Israeli authorities started investigating Pinto’s charities for misappropriation of funds, eventually arresting ten employees. That’s when Pinto’s wife passed envelopes full of cash to the wife of police Brigadier General Ephraim Bracha in the hope that Bracha would block the investigation. Unbeknownst to Pinto, Bracha was actually part of the probe.
After he took a plea deal last spring, and received the lightest sentence permissible under law –one year plus a fine – Pinto fled to New York, pleading ill health. At the end of October, his organisation proffered a weird, error-filled letter from a urologist, urging that the rabbi not fly back to Israel, even though the rabbi “insists” upon doing so.
Followers assaulted reporters covering the case, and made threats to witnesses who had testified. But Pinto was sent back.
And now his last appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court has been rejected. The Court said that Israeli prisons can provide whatever medical care the 43-year-old rabbi needs.