Mayor Rami Greenberg of the central city of Petah Tikva revealed on Wednesday that he was the municipal chief detained earlier this week by police on suspicion of using control of the municipal budget to see his enemies fired.
Investigators from the Lahav 433 national crime squad suspect Greenberg and three of his aides of fraud, breach of trust, extortion by threats and other offenses, police said.
Greenberg took to Facebook to deny the allegations against him and railed against “intrigues” and “hatred” in the public service he claimed had led unidentified individuals to attempt to topple him.
He asserted that he has acted as mayor only in the public interest.
A probe was opened a year ago following complaints that the mayor had withheld municipal funding from institutes that we’re entitled to it unless they fired or ousted his opponents and their family members from key positions.
After being questioned on Sunday, the municipal chief was released home under restrictive conditions and was forbidden to contact anyone connected to the case for 14 days.
A former close associate of the mayor and witness in the case claimed to Channel 12 news that Greenberg made a “180-degree” upon his election to his position, and began to exclude his partner from his close circle.
“At first he took me out of all kinds of WhatsApp groups where I would express my displeasure at the decisions made by the municipality. Then he demanded that I not be present at events initiated by the municipality,” the witness said.
The individual claimed that he would receive messages threatening his family over activities, and even reached a point when a man approached him on a bicycle and said: “You should check your car every morning.”
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.