Rabbi Yona Metzger.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
The Jerusalem District Court rejected the plea bargain arranged for disgraced former chief rabbi Yonah Metzger, and added an extra year to his sentence on Thursday. Instead of the original three-and-a half-year sentence, he will instead serve four-and-a-half years in prison.
Judge Moshe Yoed Hacohen wrote that Metzger had severely deviated from expected moral standards and badly damaged public trust in so doing, and that the severity of the crime warranted a harsher sentence, especially in light of the lofty nature of the rabbi’s public role.
Metzger was chief rabbi from 2003 to 2013.
The judge added that there was also no shortage of evidence against Metzger, and said that the appropriate range of incarceration for the crimes the former chief rabbi committed was between six to nine years.
Metzger’s new sentence is four and a half years’ imprisonment, a fine of NIS 1 million, and asset forfeiture of NIS 2m. and NIS 2m. in civil assessment fees.
The rabbi was indicted in October 2015 for taking NIS 10m. in bribes, and agreed to a plea bargain in January this year. According to the indictment, of the NIS 10m. in bribes, NIS 7m. went directly to Metzger.
In the so-called “conversion affair,” Metzger was convicted of receiving bribes from foreigners who wished to convert to Judaism or to confirm their Jewish status according to the Chief Rabbinate’s standards.
Metzger’s lawyer said on Thursday that the judge’s decision not to accept the plea bargain was highly unusual and that his client would likely appeal.