JERUSALEM (JTA) – Yoshiyahu Pinto, an Israeli rabbi who has counselled such celebrities as LeBron James, was sentenced to a year in prison after pleading guilty to bribing a senior police official.
The rabbi also was fined 1 million shekels or $260,000 in Tel Aviv District Court on Tuesday.
In a plea deal finalized last month, Pinto, 39, pleaded guilty to charges of bribery, attempted bribery and obstruction of justice for attempting to bribe a senior police officer for information in another investigation about him. Pinto agreed to provide evidence that he bribed a more senior officer.
He, whose attorneys had argued for community service and no jail time, will begin serving his prison sentence on June 28.
Pinto, the head of several charity organizations and yeshivas in Ashdod, in southern Israel, and in the United States, has been sought out by prominent Israelis, politicians, businessmen and sports figures on business and personal matters. Along with the NBA star James, they include former Rep. Anthony Weiner, businessman Jay Schottenstein and Israeli soccer star Guy Levy.
In April 2014, U.S. prosecutors brought charges against former Rep. Michael Grimm, R-N.Y., for receiving large contributions from followers of Pinto. Grimm admitted to receiving several hundred thousand dollars in contributions from Pinto followers.
Pinto, a kabbalist, is the great-grandson of well-known Moroccan-born mystic known as the Baba Sali.