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The director of a Jerusalem center for blind children allegedly embezzled NIS 3.5 million over the last four years, police said Monday.
Moshe Rips, 63, is suspected of taking the money from Keren Or, the Jerusalem Center for Multi-Handicapped Blind Children, which he headed for the last two decades.
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Rips was arrested after the organization's new accountant reviewed the books, discovered the suspected embezzlement and filed a police complaint, Jerusalem police spokeswoman Ilanit Kleiman said.
Rips was subsequently fired by the organization's US-based board of directors, police said.
The center, which receives most of its funding from American donors, also gets some of its budget from the Social Affairs Ministry, police said.
During a hearing before his superiors prior to his dismissal, Rips said he took the money because his wife and mother were dying. On Monday, he did not deny taking the money, but said he had an oral contract with the organization and that the money was owed to him as salary, Army Radio reported.
According to police, Rips gambled at Lotto stands and would pay for his lottery tickets using donations to the organization.
The center's Jerusalem and New York offices declined to comment.
The center, which is located in Jerusalem's Ramot neighborhood, is devoted to the care and rehabilitation of 100 blind and visually-impaired children and teenagers who are also either physically or mentally handicapped.
A Jerusalem court on Monday barred Rips, who has been released on bail, from leaving the country.