(photo credit: Ilan Cirota)
The FBI is weighing whether or not to open an investigation into allegations
that close associates of Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto made illegal campaign
contributions to US Rep. Michael Grimm (R-New York), AP reported on
According to the report, a number of Pinto’s supporters raised
money for Grimm’s 2010 campaign, but several donors have subsequently said that
they donated funds in excess of that permissible by law.
Pinto heads the
Shuva Israel network of yeshivot and charitable institutions, which has a
presence both in Israel and the US.
Former Democratic US
Rep. Anthony Weiner, who was close with Pinto, told Washington, DC,
newspaper Roll Call
on Saturday that the rabbi had told him in fall 2010 that
Grimm had extorted the money from him, and threatened that he was a person with
whom it is better to be friends than enemies.
Weiner added that he did
not know if the allegations were true but that he passed them on to the
Grimm denied the allegations, calling them “absurd,” and said that
they were part of a “Democratic smear campaign.”
In 2011, allegations
were made against Pinto’s Shuva Israel organization about possible financial
impropriety, claiming that jewelry, luxury accommodation and clothing were paid
for with charity funds.
Pinto said the allegations were part of an
extortion attempt by two former associates of his, one of whom embezzled the
He added that he was never involved in the network’s