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City mayor detained on suspicion of using extortion to oust opponents from jobs

Three aides also taken in, police say; municipal chief in central region suspected of withholding funding from organizations unless they fired his enemies and their family members

General view of the Lahav 433 police unit headquarters in the city of Lod, on November 4, 2019. (Flash90)
General view of the Lahav 433 police unit headquarters in the city of Lod, on November 4, 2019. (Flash90)

The mayor of a central city was detained Sunday on suspicion that he used control of the municipal budget to see his enemies fired, the Israel Police said in a statement. Three of the mayor’s aides were also detained.

The identity of the mayor was not released for publication.

Investigators from the Lahav 433 national crime squad suspect the four of fraud, breach of trust, extortion by threats and other offenses, police said.

A probe was opened a year ago following complaints that the mayor had withheld municipal funding from institutes that were entitled to it, unless they fired or ousted his opponents and their family members from key positions.

The three aides are suspected of “acting on [the mayor’s] behalf to fulfill his wishes and intentions,” the statement said.

Police vowed to “continue to act in any place were suspicion are raised of public corruption.” State prosecutors also participated in the probe.

A number of city mayors have been probed or indicted on suspicion of corruption over the past year.

In January, Or Akiva Mayor Yaakov Edri was told by prosecutors they were considering indicting him on a string of corruption charges, including bribery, fraud and breach of trust. Police recommended in June 2021 that he be charged.

Also in January, an oversight committee suspended Hadera Mayor Zvi Gendelman for six months after he was indicted last October on corruption charges.

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