The Tel Aviv District Court yesterday sentenced former Bat Yam Mayor Shlomo Lahiani to eight months in prison, accepting the state’s appeal of a sentence of community service only.
In their ruling, judges Dvora Berliner, George Kara and Esther Nachlieli-Khayat sent a message unprecedented in its severity regarding the crime of breach of trust by elected officials. They also rejected Lahiani’s false expressions of regret and expanded the prosecution’s ability to appeal lenient sentences. Finally, they sent a signal to other courts that haven’t yet internalized the requisite level of punishment for public corruption.
Lahiani was convicted in a plea bargain on three counts of breach of trust. Before becoming mayor, he was a property developer who accumulated debts of tens of millions of shekels. After his election, he sought loans from local businessmen who needed something from city hall and then he made decisions on issues affecting his lenders. He also had senior municipal employees who were subordinate to him take out bank loans in their own names and give him the money. He then used this money, 440,000 shekels ($112,000), to repay his own debts while reimbursing the employees in installments.
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