FBI considers investigating Rabbi's’s supporters

Allegations abound that associates of Rabbi Pinto made illegal campaign contributions to US Rep. Michael Grimm.

311_Rabbi Pinto (photo credit: Ilan Cirota)
311_Rabbi Pinto
(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 Saturday.
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 FBI.
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 charity’s funds.
He added that he was never involved in the network’s financial administration.