State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan on Sunday informed the longtime mayor of the coastal city of Netanya, Miriam Feirberg-Ikar, that he would close a criminal investigation into bribery suspicions against her after nearly three years, the Justice Ministry said.
At the same time, prosecutors informed Deputy Mayor Shimon Sher that they were considering pressing bribery, fraud and breach of trust charges against him, pending a pre-indictment hearing.
Police had suspected Feirberg-Ikar and other municipal officials of accepting hundreds of thousands of shekels in bribes in return for promoting certain real estate projects in the northern coastal city.
In March, police recommended Feirberg-Ikar be indicted for election bribery, fraud and breach of trust. In their recommendation, police told Nitzan their investigation had revealed an “extensive pattern of criminal activity by the mayor and members of her family.”
But Nitzan and other justice officials declared the evidence insufficient to bring her to trial, wrapping up a case that was opened in September 2016, with her arrest and brief detention, according to the Justice Ministry.
Despite the ongoing investigation, Feirberg-Ikar was elected to serve a fifth term as mayor of Netanya in late October. Endorsed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in this year’s race, she won 50 percent of the vote in her city.
As prosecutors dropped the case against her, they closed in on her deputy.
Deputy Mayor Sher will soon be summoned for a pre-indictment hearing, the ministry said.
Prosecutors suspect that Sher, a member of the Sanz Hasidic dynasty, had real estate developers donate funds to his community, amounting to some NIS 3 million ($830,000), in exchange for building permits in the city.