moshe rips walking .
(photo credit: Channel 10)
The longtime Israeli director of an American-funded Jerusalem center for blind children has been arrested for allegedly embezzling at least NIS 3.5 million from the organization 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 has headed for the last two decades.
He has confessed to the allegations against him following his arrest last week, police said.
Rips was caught after a recently appointed accountant from the organization discovered the fraud and filed a complaint against the center's director with police, Jerusalem police spokeswoman Ilanit Kleiman said.
He was subsequently fired by the group's American board of directors, which funds the organization, police said.
However, Rips' name and position still appeared on the center's web site Monday.
The center, which receives most of its funding from American donors, also gets some funding from the Social Welfare Ministry, police said.
During a hearing before his bosses prior to his dismissal, Rips said that he stole the money from the organization for blind children because both his wife and mother were dying.
But police discovered that in fact he was a serial gambler, who paid checks to the Israeli lottery with the center's money.
The known embezzlement allegations against him stem only from the last four years of his two-decade tenure, between 2002-2006.
The center's Jerusalem and New York offices declined comment Monday on the arrest of its Israel director.
The center, which is located in the northern Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramot, is devoted exclusively to the care and rehabilitation of 100 blind and low vision children and teenagers who are also either physically or mentally handicapped.
At police's request, a Jerusalem court on Monday barred the suspect, who has been released on bail, from leaving the country.