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Head of Israel Police fraud unit commits suicide

Ephraim Bracha, 55, shoots himself in his car near his home; was linked to high-profile bribery case involving influential rabbi

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Ephraim Bracha, at the time a chief superintendent, seen at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, October 20, 2014. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Ephraim Bracha, at the time a chief superintendent, seen at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, October 20, 2014. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Deputy Commissioner Ephraim Bracha, the head of the Israel Police’s National Fraud Unit, took his own life on Sunday morning, shooting himself in his car near his home in the city of Modiin.

The 55-year-old father of four was found by Magen David Adom paramedics in his vehicle in Emek Ha’ela Street, with a bullet through his heart.

The police force said in a statement that “it announces with great sadness the death of Deputy Commissioner Ephraim Bracha. The police force bows its head and sends condolences to the family.”

A week ago, Channel 10 reported that the Police Internal Investigations Department was looking into claims that Bracha had given information about cases to suspects.

The department said that after looking into the matter it would decide whether to open an investigation against him.

The claims were apparently made by popular Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto, who was earlier this year sentenced to a year in prison on a bribery conviction.

Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto (Photo by Yossi Zeliger/Flash90).
Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto (Photo by Yossi Zeliger/Flash90).

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan mourned Bracha’s death in a statement.

“Bracha served the police for dozens of years in a range of jobs, and he was among the leaders of the campaign against crime,” he said.

Associates of Bracha said that he had recently been in a very negative emotional state due to media reports and accusations of wrongdoing.

A senior police officer told the Walla news site that the force blamed the media for his death.

“You killed him with the reports and the leaks from Rabbi Pinto,” the unnamed officer said. “Words kill.”

Bracha, a key figure in the complex bribery scandal, testified that Pinto had offered him a bribe in return for information about an investigation into a charity fund linked to the rabbi.

While Pinto insisted that Bracha had taken the money, the police officer claimed he had reported the incident rather than accept the bribe.

After pleading guilty as part of a plea bargain, Pinto was convicted in April of bribery, attempted bribery, and obstruction of justice.

Under the plea bargain, Pinto agreed to testify against Menashe Arviv, the former head of the police’s anti-corruption unit who is suspected of receiving benefits from businessmen associated with the rabbi.

In exchange, Pinto, a kabbalist with a sizable and influential international following, was guaranteed a light jail sentence plus fines.

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