Slate wiped for senior cop who committed suicide

Fraud squad chief Ephraim Bracha took his own life Sunday, following bribery allegations

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Deputy Commissioner Efraim Bracha arrives at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem in 2014. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Deputy Commissioner Efraim Bracha arrives at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem in 2014. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

The Justice Ministry on Sunday cleared a senior fraud squad officer of wrongdoing, hours after he committed suicide in the wake of corruption allegations.

Deputy Commissioner Ephraim Bracha took his own life Sunday morning, days after an Israeli news website accused him of accepting bribes from popular rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto, who was sentenced in May to a year in prison for bribery and corruption.

The Justice Ministry on Sunday evening dismissed the allegations that Bracha had accepted bribes from the famous rabbi as “lies and false reports.”

The 55-year-old Bracha was found in his vehicle near his home in Modiin, with a self-inflicted bullet wound. He was survived by a wife and four children.

Last week, journalist Yoav Yitzhak published on his News1 website an article in which he called Bracha “a danger to the public,” saying he deserved to be jailed over the corruption claims.

Yitzchak defended his accusations in an interview on Sunday, saying he was only doing “his job as a journalist.”

The journalist, who had written a series of articles on Bracha over the past few weeks, called the claims that he had persecuted the policeman “ridiculous.”

He added, “I plan to continue doing my job.”

Bracha, who headed the Israel Police’s National Fraud Unit, had been a key part of the investigation into Pinto.

Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto (Gideon Markowicz/Flash90)
Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto (Gideon Markowicz/Flash90)

The rabbi came under investigation in 2012 for alleged financial irregularities at the Hayim Yoshiyahu charity fund with which he was associated. Bracha told investigators at the time that the rabbi had offered him $200,000, allegedly in the hope of gaining information about the case.

Pinto initially told police that he had not offered Bracha any money, but later reversed his story, claiming he had paid money to Bracha or his family members on more than one occasion.

Bracha had previously declared that he would commit suicide if it were shown that he had taken a bribe from Pinto.

A close friend told reporters after his death that Bracha had said to him on more than one occasion, “This story with Pinto will follow me to my grave.”

Another friend said the deputy commissioner had told him, “They want me to commit suicide, but I won’t give them the satisfaction.”

“I can’t believe that in the end he gave in to the pressure,” the friend added.

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein and the State Prosecutor’s Office praised Bracha in Sunday’s Justice Ministry statement, saying, “Deputy Commissioner Bracha was a fair, talented and courageous police officer who was utterly devoted to the rule of law. The attorney general and the state prosecutor worked hand in hand with him for many years on unparalleled sensitive and difficult cases, [and] that close cooperation was very fruitful.”

They added, “The attorney general and the state’s attorney join in the deep mourning of his family and of the Israel Police.”

Bracha’s funeral was called for Monday at 4:00 p.m., in the military section of the Modiin cemetery.

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