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Plea bargain for former TA deputy mayor in corruption case linked to Likud MK Bitan

Charge of accepting bribes dropped, but Arnon Giladi to face conviction on breach of trust and moral turpitude, will receive 8-month prison sentence and fine

Arnon Giladi, right, then-deputy mayor of Tel Aviv arrives fora  remand hearing after being arrested in the corruption affair at the Rishon Lezion municipality at the Magistrate's Court in Rishon Letzion, February 4, 2017. (Flash90)
Arnon Giladi, right, then-deputy mayor of Tel Aviv arrives fora remand hearing after being arrested in the corruption affair at the Rishon Lezion municipality at the Magistrate's Court in Rishon Letzion, February 4, 2017. (Flash90)

Arnon Giladi, a former deputy mayor and city councilman of Tel Aviv, has agreed to a plea bargain that will see him serve eight months in prison, prosecutors said Wednesday, in a massive corruption case linked to Likud MK David Bitan.

Giladi will admit to two counts of breach of trust while charges of accepting bribes, money laundering and obstructing justice will be dropped. He will also be convicted of moral turpitude which requires him to resign from any public office and not hold one again for several years.

The Likud party member was also given an additional suspended sentence and fined NIS 35,000 ($10,000).

According to the updated charge sheet Giladi, as a member of the Tel Aviv city council who served on the local planning committee, took advantage of his position in the municipality in 2011, and 2015-2017, to advance and resolve issues with three real estate projects within the city limits.

Prosecutors say he acted at the request of Bitan and a state witness that Bitan was trying to help. Giladi was also found to have acted in a serious conflict of interest within the Likud party due to common interests with Bitan.

At the end of 2017, Giladi received NIS 30,000 from three different real estate developers, according to prosecutors. The money was intended for various events and activities for the cultivation of Giladi’s public image and the promotion of his candidacy for the local authority elections in 2018. In return, he assisted the developers with planning procedures at the municipality.

Giladi’s defense team said in a statement they had worked to have the bribery charge removed after which “the path was paved for the plea settlement, in which Giladi took responsibility for certain flaws in his conduct, which under the circumstances amounted to a mild breach of trust.”

Likud MK David Bitan arrives at the party headquarters in Tel Aviv on November 27, 2022. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Bitan is the main suspect in the case and last year was indicted on multiple corruption charges after not seeking parliamentary immunity.

He was indicted in August on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, as well as money laundering and tax offenses, over accusations he pocketed some NIS 715,000 ($220,000) in bribes while serving in public office.

Bitan is accused of receiving bribes from his business associate Moshe Yosef and from businessman Dror Glazer, both while serving as deputy mayor of Israel’s fourth-largest city, Rishon Lezion, and later as a member of Knesset. Both men have testified against him.

The charges date back to when Bitan — a former coalition whip and confidant of presumptive prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu — was deputy mayor of Rishon Lezion before he was elected to the Knesset in 2013, but also include his tenure as an MK.

Then-Rishon Lezion mayor Dov Zur is also a suspect in alleged bribe-taking that took place between 2011 and 2017.

In September, a woman was sentenced to seven and a half months of community service for bribing Bitan in 2014.

In March, former top Israeli soccer player Haim Revivo was convicted in a plea deal for his part in the alleged real estate bribery scheme.

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