Israel’s Ex-Chief Rabbi Goes to Jail for Corruption*
A former Israeli chief rabbi has taken a plea deal in a Jerusalem court for corruption and will now serve three and a half years in prison.
In addition to imprisonment, Yona Metzger must pay a $1.3 million fine. The state will also foreclose on his apartment in central Tel Aviv.
In 2013, Metzger stepped down amidst charges of breach of trust, fraud, tax offenses, money laundering, theft, and accepting bribes. He was accused of using charity donations for profit, and accepting bribes for changing his opinion on various matters.
Metzger was investigated by Israel Police’s national fraud unit, the Lahav 433, for alleged scams being run by the rabbi. After the case was turned over to the Jerusalem District Attorney’s office, police found that the rabbi had stashed $200,000 with a sister in Haifa, and over $11,300 in various books hidden throughout his home.
On Wednesday, Metzger’s attorney Tal Gabai told Israeli media that the disgraced rabbi has “taken responsibility” for his crimes.
Metzger is now the highest-ranking rabbi to go to prison for corruption.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is also currently under investigation for corruption and bribes.
“Israel’s former president Moshe Katsav was paroled last month after serving more than five years of a seven-year prison term for rape. Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is also currently serving time for corruption,” the Times of Israel reports.
Metzger was questioned over suspicion of bribery in 2005, but the case was dropped by the attorney general.