A former tourism minister representing the Yisrael Beytenu party was sentenced to 15 months in prison and will have to pay a NIS 70,000 (just under $20,000) fine after pleading guilty to breach of trust in a deal with the prosecution.
Stas Misezhnikov, 48, who served as minister in 2009-2013, was accused of ensuring his ministry’s funding of a student festival in 2012 in the southern port city of Eilat and then asking organizers to employ his romantic partner, Julia Roth, in return. Organizers complied, paying her tens of thousands of shekels during the period in question. The ministry’s funding came to some NIS 1 million ($270,000).
During the course of the investigation, he was also charged with having his aides procure cocaine, which he would then allegedly use during official events in Israel and abroad. Those charges were dropped in the plea deal.
The revised indictment and the terms of the deal were submitted to the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court last month.
The charges against Misezhnikov have been linked to a massive corruption investigation into a number of former Yisrael Beytenu party officials.
In August, former deputy interior minister Faina Kirshenbaum and nine other officials linked to Yisrael Beytenu were indicted for a litany of corruption charges, including bribery, fraud and money laundering.
Yuval Sasson, Misezhnikov’s lawyer, said, “My client took full responsibility for the offense he committed almost eight years ago while a novice minister regarding a conflict of interests, due to bad judgment.”
Maor Even-Chen of the state prosecutor’s economic department said, “The court accepted our position and set a level of appropriate punishment for fraud and breach of trust.
“Now, every public official and elected member of the public will know that a serious conflict of interest in the framework of his position, and the exploitation of his position to promote associates, will result in many months behind bars. “