Shas founding member and former MK and communications minister Rafael Pinhasi was convicted Sunday by the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court of violating zoning laws by renting out apartments in a Bnei Brak building that was not sanctioned for residential use. The crime carries a maximum sentence of two years in prison.

Former Shas minister Rabbi Raphael Pinhasi (photo credit: Kobi Gideon/Flash90)

Former Shas minister Rabbi Raphael Pinhasi (photo credit: Kobi Gideon/Flash90)

Pinhasi accepted a plea bargain, was ordered to pay a NIS 5,000 fine and will have to immediately cease illegal use of the building.

“The offense of unauthorized use is not trivial,” said the presiding judge Jacob Shaked. “Zoning law violations have been recognized many times by the Supreme Court as damaging to the country. This is especially true in the case of economic crimes designed to increase profits for the defendant.”

Pinhasi, who was one of the founders of Shas in 1984, served as a Knesset member from 1984 to 1993, holding various positions including communications minister and deputy Knesset speaker. In 1993 he was forced out of office after being convicted of unlawful transfer of funds, but was re-elected to the Knesset from 1996 to 1999.