Former Bat Yam mayor Shlomo Lahiani was sentenced Tuesday by the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court for three counts of breach of trust, to which he had previously pleaded guilty in a plea bargain. Under the terms of the deal he struck with the state prosecutor at the beginning of the summer, he was not sentenced on additional counts of bribery and corruption.
Lahiani was sentenced to six months community service and ordered to pay a NIS 250,000 fine (some $68,000). In addition, the court found him guilty of moral turpitude, which will ban Lahiani from holding political office for seven years.
The presiding judge, Benny Sagi, said that Lahiani took advantage of “the power of his position” and noted that “when an incumbent mayor falls short in such a way, the damage is formidable.”
Lahiani, 48, was indicted last October following years of investigations and just three weeks before he successfully defended his mayoral seat in the seaside town south of Tel Aviv. In February a special Interior Ministry committee removed Lahiani from his position due to the charges against him.
Due to the moral turpitude associated with the charges, Lahiani, who retained his popularity in Bat Yam despite his legal troubles, will remain out of the mayor’s office and will be forced to miss the next mayoral elections, set for 2018.
The state attorney had demand at least a year of jail time for the former mayor, but Lahiani’s defense successfully negotiated a lesser sentence of community service.
Lahiani was accused of failing to declare and pay taxes on NIS 8 million (around $2,200,000) in income and of accepting bribes of some NIS 900,000 (around $250,000).
Lahiani was also accused of running a ring of city employees who used their status to take out bank loans worth NIS 440,000 ($128,000) that they passed on to Lahiani personally, and of a conflict of interest in an affair where the city would take out advertisements in a local paper of which he was a part owner.
Stuart Winer contributed to this report.
The Times of Israel covers one of the most complicated, and contentious, parts of the world. Determined to keep readers fully informed and enable them to form and flesh out their own opinions, The Times of Israel has gradually established itself as the leading source of independent and fair-minded journalism on Israel, the region and the Jewish world.
We've achieved this by investing ever-greater resources in our journalism while keeping all of the content on our site free.
Unlike many other news sites, we have not put up a paywall. But we would like to invite readers who can afford to do so, and for whom The Times of Israel has become important, to help support our journalism by joining The Times of Israel Community. Join now and for as little as $6 a month you can both help ensure our ongoing investment in quality journalism, and enjoy special status and benefits as a Times of Israel Community member.