Police raid home, office of Hadera mayor in corruption probe

Police raid home, office of Hadera mayor in corruption probe

3 other elected officials from northern city questioned by fraud investigators; 2 to go before judge for remand hearing

The headquarters of the Israel Police's Lahav 433 anti-corruption unit in Lod. (Flash90)
The headquarters of the Israel Police's Lahav 433 anti-corruption unit in Lod. (Flash90)

Police on Monday questioned Hadera’s and three other elected officials on suspicions of bribery, corruption and tax-related offenses, police and Hebrew-language media reported.

Zvi “Zvika” Gendelman and the other suspects from the northern coastal city were interrogated by the police anti-fraud unit, Lahav 433, after an early morning raid on their homes and offices.

Police said the covert investigation into Hadera officials was carried out jointly with the Tax Authority’s organized crime and fraud investigation unit.

According to the statement, the suspects “illegally utilized their role in order to advance the interests of others.”

Hadera Mayor Zvi Gendelman. (Screen capture: YouTube)

After several hours of questioning, two of the suspects were released. The other two will be brought before a judge at the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court later on Monday for a remand hearing.

Gendelman’s name and other identifying details of the case were initially subject to a gag order when police first issued the statement on Monday morning, but the legal order was lifter later in the day.

Corruption scandals have dogged numerous Israeli municipalities recently.

Nazareth Mayor Ali Salam appears at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, January 30, 2014 (Flash90)

Last month, Nazareth Mayor Ali Salam confirmed he and several other city officials were under investigation for various corruption-related offenses. Lahav 433 investigators questioned Salam and the municipal workers over suspicions of theft, accepting an illegal gift in aggravated circumstances, fraud and breach of trust.

Earlier in May, a number of senior Beit Shemesh municipal officials were arrested on suspicion of bribery and corruption, with investigators suspecting that they received sizable kickbacks from business people in return for advancing their interests by allowing them to purchase land for development.

In April, seven people were arrested when police and tax officials raided the Hevel Modiin Regional Council offices, including a senior elected official in the council. Seven others were taken to Lahav 433 headquarters for questioning as part of the same investigation. Two others were arrested in another corruption probe.

In March, Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Meir Turgeman was arrested along with five others on allegations of bribery, fraud, breach of trust, abuse of power and tax offenses.

Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Meir Turgeman at an event in Jerusalem on September 1, 2013. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Officials said Turgeman, who serves as chairman of the capital’s Planning and Building Committee, was suspected of accepting money in exchange for illegally advancing various interests.

An ongoing, unrelated corruption investigation involving officials from the Rishon Lezion municipality and local developers has focused on MK David Bitan, a former deputy mayor in the city, who was forced to resign last December as coalition whip after it emerged that he was at the center of the probe.

read more: