Or Akiva mayor hit with raft of charges, including for bribery, assault

Yaakov Edri resigns after he’s indicted for allegedly taking bribes that were often disguised as charity payments or campaign contributions, in excess of NIS 569,000

Former mayor of Or Akiva Yaakov Edri. (Screenshot/YouTube; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Former mayor of Or Akiva Yaakov Edri. (Screenshot/YouTube; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Or Akiva Mayor Yaakov Edri was charged Monday with a string of offenses, including bribery, money laundering and physically assaulting a woman.

Edri, who announced his resignation after the charges were filed, was accused of involvement in systemic corruption alongside other municipal officials in Or Akiva, a town of 15,800 people between Tel Aviv and Haifa.

The mayor was part of an alleged network of eight people charged with similar offenses, including offering and receiving bribes and money laundering — services rendered in exchange for favors from him, the indictment said.

Edri, a former lawmaker for the Likud and Kadima parties, was a Knesset member between 2003 and 2013, serving during that time as health minister, immigration minister, and minister for the development of the Negev and the Galilee.

He was arrested in 2020 on suspicion of having committed a series of corruption offenses, including bribery, fraud and breach of trust.

The prosecution estimated that Edri received NIS 569,000 ($155,000), primarily provided to him at two annual junctures — the Jewish festival of Passover, and the High Holiday period — though money was allegedly sometimes also provided at his request.

Yaakov Edri, the mayor of Or Akiva, at the Knesset, January 03, 2011. (Uri Lenz/FLASH90)

The indictment said that funds were provided to Edri between 2013 and 2020 in the form of cash and purchase vouchers by private contractors with business interests in Or Akiva, such as real estate companies. Edri would use his position of authority to ensure that the companies’ business interests were looked after, prosecutors said.

In one incident, Mordechai Shechter, a prominent real estate developer seeking to advance a project in the coastal town of Nof Yam, provided Edri with a total of NIS 74,000 ($20,100), some of which was disguised as donations to the needy and municipal election campaign contributions, in exchange for Edri’s dispensation of building permits, according to the indictment.

While under investigation for corruption, Edri allegedly encouraged Shechter and the vice president of engineering in his real estate company not to cooperate with the investigation, leading to prosecutors to charge the mayor with obstructing of justice.

The indictment also said Edri assaulted a female associate in a car, grabbing her by the throat to the point of physical injury. He also threatened to kill the woman during the incident, the prosecution alleged.

The charges included accepting a bribe, requesting a bribe, money laundering, theft by a public servant, aggravated fraud and breach of trust, obstructing a legal process, tax offenses, and violent assault.

Lawyers representing Edri described the charges as “distorted” and promised to clear his name in court.

“The indictment presents a twisted, biased and distorted picture of the reality,” they said.

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