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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto Aide Gave Affidavit Detailing Bribes Taken By Then-Senior Cop

“During the meal, Maj. Gen. Arviv asked me to help his son and daughter-in-law to find work in their professions and to arrange their legal status in the United States. Arviv also told me that the couple’s economic situation was not the best and asked that I help them financially …”

Thus reads an excerpt from an affidavit signed at the end of November by Ben Zion Suki, Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto’s right-hand man.

Suki continues, “I updated the honorable rabbi regarding Maj. Gen. Arviv’s various requests. The honorable rabbi told me that Arviv is his devotee and asked that I fulfill Maj. Gen. Arviv’s request and assist his son and daughter-in-law financially or in any other way.”

Suki’s affidavit is what eventually led Maj. Gen. Menashe Arviv, commander of the Israel Police’s Lahav 433 division, known as the country’s FBI, to resign, though to this day he denies all the allegations against him and claims to have been framed. This morning the 30-day gag order expires on the type of illicit benefits Arviv is suspected of having received from Pinto, a powerful rabbi with an international following and a network of educational institutions in Israel and the United States.

Suki goes on to explain in the affadavit that since that meeting with Arviv, which took place in Pinto’s home in Ashdod on Purim of 2010, he and Arviv had been in regular contact, during which Arviv allegedly asked for various kinds of help with issues regarding himself and his family.

“When I returned to the United States, Tzahi Arviv [the son] called me and asked to meet with me pursuant to my conversation with his father. We met at the honorable rabbi’s yeshiva in Manhattan. At that meeting Tzahi told me that his financial situation was not good. …

“During another meeting with Tzahi he told me that his father asked that I help him with a sum of $2,000 a month,” Suki continues. “I consulted with the honorable rabbi on the matter, and he asked me to do as Maj. 

Gen. Arviv asked, and transfer a sum of $2,000 to his son every month. The honorable rabbi instructed that the payments to Tzahi be made by the yeshiva. From that point and for some two years afterward, $2,000 was transferred to Tzahi Arviv every month. … During this whole period Maj. Gen. Arviv would call me frequently and pressed me to help his son as much as possible.”

According to Suki, he also referred Tzahi Arviv to a New York attorney who specializes in immigration issues to represent him and his wife “in the relevant procedures before the U.S. immigrations authorities.”

To this part of the affidavit, Suki attached a considerable number of emails exchanged between the rabbi’s people, Tzahi Arviv, and the New York attorney with regard to payment. For example, Suki includes an email from October 2010 in which the attorney writes to the younger Arviv, “We’ve got permission to continue, we’re waiting for payment from the institutions and then we’ll continue.” On the same day, according to the affidavit, Arviv forwarded the email to one of the rabbi’s assistants. 

Suki also attached the email in which the attorney informs the rabbi’s associates that she’d received the checks “for the Arviv matter.” Suki attached a copy of the checks, totaling $2,650, as well as a thank-you note from Tzahi Arviv to one of the rabbi’s secretaries “upon receiving the visa.”

Suki is one of the owners of Metro Apartments, an apartment hotel in Manhattan, where many people, including journalists, would stay for free at the rabbi’s behest. 

According to Suki, “After Maj. Gen. Arviv was appointed the Israel Police representative in the United States and came to live with his family in Washington, he contacted me in September 2011 and asked me to arrange a room for him urgently, and at no charge, in the hotel I own in New York. Maj. Gen. Arviv stressed that he wanted a suite.” Suki includes an email from that day in which he asked his brother, who works with him at the Metro, to arrange a room for Arviv as quickly as possible and at no charge.

Afterward, Suki continues, “Arviv contacted me several more times and asked that I arrange a suite for him in the hotel without charge. 

I consulted with the honorable rabbi on the matter and the honorable rabbi asked me to continue to help Maj. Gen. Arviv with all his requests.”

On another matter, Suki says that Pinto at one point told FBI investigators - with whom he was in regular contact as part of an investigation of a Congressman accused of accepting illegal campaign contributions - that Arviv had asked Pinto to help him get a discount of hundreds of thousands of shekels on an apartment in a project being put up by one of the rabbi’s associates.

“After the [Israel Police] investigation in the affairs of the honorable rabbi began, Arviv made sure to get messages to the rabbi through me, to the effect that he should be patient and not say too much, to let things calm down so the whole thing could blow over,” Suki’s affidavit says.

Before Arviv was appointed to command Lahav 433, Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino looked into the relationship between him and Pinto, and nonetheless approved the appointment. Now both Danino and Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein realize that Arviv never told them the whole story. 

Arviv’s efforts to claim it was Pinto who offered him bribes which he had refused simply raised another question: If so, why didn’t he report them to his superiors at the time?

To this day, Arviv vehemently denies that he took any illicit benefits from Pinto. He sat for a private polygraph test, showed his lawyer a receipt confirming payment to the Metro hotel and is maintaining that he is a victim. 

But even if only some of the allegations are correct, or even if he truly believes that none of these things ever happened, Arviv at some point realized that he had lost his superiors’ trust and he had to resign from the force.

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