Rabbi Pinto's wife Dvora attempts overdose as police interrogate her husband on bribery, money laundering charges.
By BEN HARTMAN
Dvora Rivka Pinto, the wife of Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto, one of Israel’s most influential rabbis, attempted suicide by taking an overdose of pills at the couple’s Ashdod home on Sunday, while police investigators interrogated her husband on suspicion of money laundering and bribing a senior police officer.Pinto was lightly hurt and taken by Magen David Adom paramedics to Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer, where she was recovering Sunday night.Last week the Pintos were detained for questioning on suspicion of money laundering and attempting to bribe a top police investigator in order to gain information on a police investigation into Pinto’s business dealings. The Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court on Thursday night ordered the Pintos placed on house arrest for 15 days.The national police investigations branch said on Sunday that Pinto and his wife were interrogated by police detectives for three hours earlier in the day, before the meeting was called off “due to personal reasons.”A spokeswoman for the police investigative branch would not say if the personal reasons were linked to the attempted suicide that took place at the same time, but said that police plan on renewing the interrogations in the coming days.Pinto is suspected of trying earlier this month to bribe Dep.-Ch.Ephraim Bracha, head of the national police investigations branch, who has known the rabbi for many years.AdvertisementPinto reportedly offered Bracha $100,000 for information about an investigation into the business operations of a charity linked to Pinto, and sent his wife to hand over a suitcase with the cash to Bracha’s wife.Following the suicide attempt, Amir Dan, a spokesman hired by the Pinto family, lashed out at the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court for ignoring a request by the Pintos to issue a gag order on the investigation, due to concerns about the rebbetzin’s emotional health.It was announced Sunday that Pinto has hired former prime minister Ehud Olmert’s attorney Eli Zohar, who represented him in his successful fight against a litany of corruption charges.On Sunday, Zohar was already going to bat for his new client, telling an impromptu press conference at Sheba Medical Center that “the rabbi and his wife are cooperating fully with police questioning.”Zohar criticized the police decision to carry out the interrogations on Sunday, saying that they expressed to police their concern about the rebbetzin’s health “and to our dismay, what happened, happened.”Zohar added that he hopes the investigation comes to an end as quickly as possible.Founder of the Shuva Israel Yeshiva, Pinto is a famous rabbi both in Israel and the US, and a descendant of two Sephardic rabbinical dynasties, both the Pinto and Abuhatzeira dynasties.A star in his own right, Pinto has served as an adviser to a battery of Israel’s elite, including businessman Yitzhak Tshuva, former Kadima Party head Tzipi Livni, Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman and tycoon Nochi Dankner.
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