(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
The Supreme Court on Thursday denied Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto’s request for an early release eight months into his one-year jail sentence for attempted bribery.
The ruling upheld the Lod District Court’s ruling on September 29, which had overturned the Parole Board’s decision to grant Pinto’s release.
Pinto vehemently slammed the prosecution and the Lod District Court for treating him more harshly than some other public figures who were given an early release, but after the Supreme Court’s decision he cannot appeal further.
In its decision, the court rejected Pinto’s arguments that he was being penalized for lack of participation in rehabilitation groups due to circumstances beyond his control, and because the state prosecution had improperly introduced new evidence before the Lod District Court, which the board had not seen.
It said that Pinto did not participate in rehabilitation groups both because of his short prison stay and by his own choice, and that the prosecution properly presented intelligence about Pinto’s alleged ongoing criminal connections to the Lod District Court in response to questions about what dangers his early release might present.
The Supreme Court agreed with the lower court that the board’s decision did not fully take into account the potential continued danger that Pinto presented of committing financial crimes in the future.
After the Supreme Court denied his January 5 appeal to strike down his jail sentence, Pinto entered Nitzan Prison in Ramle in February. Tel Aviv District Court Judge Oded Mudrik sentenced Pinto to one year in prison as part of a plea bargain in May 2015, along with a NIS 1 million fine.
Pinto tried to bribe the police National Fraud Squad head Ephraim Bracha with $200,000 to get information from him about a criminal investigation into the Hazon Yeshaya foundation Pinto was running.
Bracha reported Pinto’s actions to his superiors, and continued to gather evidence on the rabbi.
In the summer of 2015, Bracha committed suicide, following a public campaign against him on a number of fronts, including by followers of Pinto via social media.
Pinto is the founder of the Shuva Israel Yeshiva and a wellknown rabbi in both Israel and the US. He is also a descendant of two Sephardi rabbinical dynasties, Pinto and Abuhatzeira.
Forbes has previously listed him as the seventh-richest rabbi in Israel.
After Mudrik’s sentencing Pinto to jail in May 2015, the prosecution declared that “even powerful people with connections still get justice for their deeds.”