Ronen Bar Shira, who is suspected of pocketing money from fund-raising campaigns, including one for captive soldier Gilad Shalit and another for reforestation of the Carmel, had his remand extended yesterday to the end of legal proceedings. Tel Aviv District Court Judge Zion Kapah said the suspect was dangerous to the public.
In 1999, Bar Shira was convicted on 27 counts of fraud and four counts of attempted fraud. In the present case, Bar Shira did not dispute the existence of evidence against him.
The charge sheet against Bar Shira includes a long string of suspected instances of fraud. However, Judge Kapah wrote that possibly pocketing donations from the campaign to release Gilad Shalit and that aiming to restore the Carmel after the devastating forest fire late last year were sufficient to paint a picture of misconduct and a fraudster way of life.
The judge said the defendant demonstrated "a lack of scruples" and "no moral barriers."
"The respondent has long since engaged in forgery and fraud and was even tried, convicted and imprisoned for the same," Kapah wrote. He noted that Bar Shira's past convictions had apparently not "deterred him from taking up this path again."
Kapah said that when reading through Bar Shira's 1999 conviction, one learns that there's nothing new under the sun. "In committing these offenses, the accused fooled dozens of innocent people," wrote Kapah. "It's difficult to comprehend the full scale of cunning and hardheartedness."
Kapah went on to say that the prosecution's fears of obstruction of justice if Bar Shira is released on bail were not without foundation. "The actions of the respondent teach us that he cannot be trusted, and that no alternative to remand would be sufficient." The accused, said the judge, returned to his ways whenever he was freed and used a smooth tongue to put his hand into other people's pockets.
"It's not unthinkable he would do so again," said Kapah. "A leopard doesn't change his spots."
The judge said that "fraud can be easily committed under house arrest, not to mention that it is reasonable to assume he has access to considerable sums of money, which raise the fear he may flee from justice. He engages in a ritual in which he goes in and out of prison and uses breaks between jail terms to scheme to defraud, cheat and steal...."
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