Rabbi Pinto’s wife hospitalized after suicide attempt

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The wife of an influential rabbi caught up in a bribery and money laundering probe has been hospitalized in Israel following a reported suicide attempt Sunday, the Jerusalem Post reports.

Dvora Pinto, 37, the wife of Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto, was admitted to a hospital in Rehovot, Israel Sunday after taking an overdose of pills, reports said.

The couple were remanded to 15 days of house arrest in Ashdod, Israel Thursday (Oct. 11), after being accused of attempting to bribe a senior Israeli police officer with $200,000 for information on a money laundering probe of a charity connected to the rabbi, Hazon Yeshaya.

[Maariv newspaper adds: In April, the police arrested the directors of that charity on suspicion of having pocketed millions of shekels in contribution money from Israel and abroad, which were to be used to buy food for the needy and Holocaust survivors. Pinto was not questioned in that affair, nor was he suspected of being involved in the larceny. However, he did serve as the charity’s honorary president, and does have a vested interest in the investigation because of the contributions. […] In addition to the bribery offense, Pinto is also suspected of money laundering. The Police suspect that the money given to [Police investigator] Bracha as bribery was “black money” which had not been reported to the tax authorities. Yet in his investigation yesterday, Pinto insisted that, that had not been a bribery but rather financial aid to Bracha’s sick relative. The police have rejected this assertion: “We would not have arrested the rabbi and his wife had we thought that that was bona fide charity money.”]

A spokesman for the rabbi, Amir Dan, told the Jerusalem Post that he blamed Israeli police for denying the couple’s requests to issue a gag order on the case.

Rivka Pinto’s father, Shlomo Ben Hamo, the chief rabbi of Argentina, has previously accused his son in law of involving him unwittingly in a money laundering/real estate scheme.

Separately, a former top aide to the Rabbi, Ofer Biton, hired a new defense lawyer Friday amid an FBI probe of whether US Congressman Michael Grimm (R- Staten Island, NY) accepted illegal campaign contributions from members of Rabbi Pinto’s congregation. Biton was arrested by the FBI in August on an immigration fraud charge. His former attorney has said federal authorities are pressuring Biton to cooperate against Grimm in exchange for leniency.