The former head of the police’s Lahav 433 anti-corruption unit was indicted Sunday over allegations that he had received thousands of dollars and other assistance from disgraced celebrity Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto.
The indictment filed in the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s court charged retired commander Menashe Arviv with fraud, breach of trust and failure to fulfill his official duties.
Between 2010 and 2013, Arviv allegedly established a mutually beneficial agreement with Pinto deemed inappropriate by then attorney general Yehuda Weinstein, who initiated the investigation in January 2016.
While he resigned in February 2014, Arviv maintained his innocence and slammed Attorney General Weinstein’s investigation as a “witch hunt.”
Pinto, a charismatic, influential kabbalist, with powerful connections in Israel’s business community, was released in January after serving a year in prison on bribery charges.
Since 2011, Pinto, 43, who heads several charity organizations and Torah study institutions in the coastal city of Ashdod and in the US, has been the subject of a number of ongoing investigations, both by Israeli police and the FBI.
In April 2014, federal prosecutors brought charges against Republican US Congressman Michael Grimm for receiving large contributions from followers of Pinto.
Grimm has acknowledged receiving $250,000-$300,000 in contributions from followers of the rabbi.
The rabbi was suspected of embezzlement of money from a charity fund. According to FBI suspicions, he was also the target of a blackmail attempt.
According to the indictment as part of the “alliance of interests” between the two sides, Arviv and Pinto allegedly turned to one another for various favors that would boost their public images. The former wanted to be connected to a prominent rabbi, while the latter wanted a prominent law enforcement connection.
Arviv, who had also been serving as the police representative in the US, requested Pinto’s help in finding jobs in New York for his wife and son jobs in New York in addition to assistance in securing a discount on a home he planned on buying.
Pinto’s associates helped Arviv’s wife land a job and even paid $2,650 for her to get a work visa in the US.
Arviv stayed several times at the “Metro” hotel in New York, which was owned by one of Pinto’s associates. But rather than paying the standard rate, Arviv would leave behind in an envelope with an amount of cash that he deemed appropriate for the visit, it said.
Despite being made aware as 433 chief of the criminal investigation into Pinto’s actions, Arviv maintained his relationship with the rabbi and did not report his conflict of interest to investigators.
Pinto went on to offer $60 thousand to Arviv in an effort to make the charges disappear. While the 433 chief declined the bribe, he did not properly report the event to the necessary officials.
When the FBI turned to Arviv for assistance in their own case against Pinto for his illegal activities in the US, the corruption unit head once again left out the crucial details of his relationship with the rabbi, according to the indictment.
The investigation into Pinto’s dealings grabbed headlines in Israel in January 2014 after his lawyers alleged to the State Attorney’s Office that Arviv had accepted favors illegally and provided secret information in return.
Pinto was able to secure a limited sentence of one year’s jail-time by turning against Arviv.