State indicts former head of 'Israeli FBI' for breach of trust
Arbiv is suspected of having close ties with Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto, who was convicted of bribery in 2016.
By YONAH JEREMY BOBUpdated: MARCH 6, 2017 00:28
The Police Investigations Department has filed an indictment against former Lahav 433 police commander Menashe Arbiv for breach of trust and violating a duty to report, State Attorney Shai Nitzan said Sunday.In January 2016, a statement from then-attorney-general Yehuda Weinstein’s office said Arbiv was suspected of having had inappropriately close relations with Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto from 2010 to 2013, including after the well-known rabbi was under investigation for bribery.However, Arbiv was given an extensive pre-indictment series of hearings to convince the state to drop the charges before the indictment was finally filed with the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court on Sunday.Pinto, who served nearly a year of prison time for the bribery charge, was released in January 2017.According to the indictment, interactions between Arbiv and Pinto started in 2010 when Pinto was active in Ashdod and New York. Arbiv was in frequent contact with Pinto’s top aide, Yossi Amos, as part of his efforts to have a strong international prominent rabbinic connection, while Pinto wanted a strong police connection.Arbiv requested Pinto’s help in finding his wife and son jobs in New York, as well as help getting a discount in purchasing a residence in Savyon Ramat Aviv. Persons working for Pinto helped Arbiv’s wife find a job and paid $2,650 to help her get a US work visa, the indictment said.Also, Arbiv and a relative were hosted multiple times at the Metro Hotel in New York, which was owned at the time by Pinto’s assistant, Ben Zion Suki, without paying a standard rate. Instead, Arbiv left behind cash in an envelope as a self-estimate for payment of the room following the hotel officials’ refusal to accept full regular payment, according to the indictment.The economic and other arrangements between Arbiv and Pinto allegedly continued even after Arbiv learned, as head of Lahav 433, that Pinto was under criminal investigation.Despite his knowledge of the probe, the indictment states that Arbiv failed to fulfill his duty to report his connections to Pinto to those officers working under him who were involved in the Pinto investigation.Pinto eventually offered Arbiv a $60,000 bribe to make the investigation go away.Although Arbiv refused the bribe, he once again failed to properly report the event to those investigating the rabbi.The indictment further states that when the FBI requested information about Pinto from the Israel Police for its separate criminal investigation of his US activities, Arbiv once again failed to disclose his relationship with Pinto to Israeli police officials handling the request and failed to recuse himself from overseeing the request.Even when National Fraud Squad head Dep.-Ch. Ephraim Bracha in 2012 disclosed to Arbiv that Pinto had tried to bribe Bracha, Arbiv did not disclose that Pinto had tried to bribe him, as well.According to the indictment, Arbiv also perjured himself when he was interrogated by police about any connections he had with Pinto.Police initially interrogated Arbiv as part of its expanding investigation of Pinto once Bracha revealed to Arbiv that the rabbi had tried to bribe Bracha. Pinto later cut a plea bargain with the state to turn state’s witness against Arbiv, which lead to his one-year jail sentence instead of a multiyear sentence.Arbiv resigned from his post over the scandal in February 2014, but continues to proclaim his innocence, charging that Pinto is corrupt and manipulating the state.At that time, he sent a letter to Weinstein rejecting many of the accusations as not only false, but impossible, including the allegation that Suki paid for Arbiv to stay in the Metro Hotel from June 9 to June 14, 2009.Arbiv’s letter, drafted by his lawyer Gidon Fischer, provided what appeared to be a copy of Arbiv’s schedule during those days, which indicated that he was meeting with then-president Shimon Peres in Washington, and giving a speech to the Anti-Defamation League – also in the US capital – during those days.