Ex-chief Rabbi of Israel jailed on corruption charges

Ex-chief Rabbi of Israel jailed on corruption charges
Yona Metzger joined former Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert in prison on Monday to begin a lengthy prison sentence for taking bribes.
2 min read
01 May, 2017
Israel's Chief Rabbi Metzger took payments as an intermediary for charities [DPA]

The former Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Israel started a 3.5 year jail term for fraud and accepting bribes on Monday.

Yona Metzger arrived at Ma'asiyahu Prison in Ramle to start his sentence alongside former Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert.

"He abused his office and senior position in order to accept money for his personal use," said Dan Vitman at the Jerusalem State Attorney's office.

Metzger was found guilty in February of accepting nearly $1.3 million in bribes – half the amount he was originally charged with in October 2015.

In addition to his prison sentence, Metzger was also fined $1.3 million.

The Supreme Court accepted a 12 month reduction in his prison sentence on Sunday – after it had been originally increased by a year in response to a failed plea bargain.

The judges said the reduction "does not detract from the harsh condemnation of the ugly acts for which he was convicted," Haaretz reported.

The court heard how Metzger took fees to mediate between NGOs and their financial donors.

His lawyers defended his actions saying: "Without this mediation there would have been no donations. There was no malice on his part."

Metzger was also accused of stealing money from a Tel Aviv synagogue where he served as rabbi. Those charges were later dropped as part of the plea bargain.

He faced numerous charges related to tax evasion and money laundering after receiving the payments in cash and did not disclose them to the authorities.