Shalom Domrani - Moti Kimche
Shalom Domrani. Photo by Moti Kimche
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The reputed Ashkelon crime boss Shalom Domrani and six associates were indicted Monday for extortion and related offenses connected to Domrani's alleged efforts to maintain control of cooking- and heating-oil companies in Sderot.

According to the charge sheet, issued in the Be'er Sheva District Court, Domrani's organization gained control of the gas market in Sderot and its environs a number of years ago, acting through the owner of the company Petrol Gas, Shlomo Amar. Domrani allegedly threatened a Sderot man who tried to break his monopoly and sent people to set the man's car on fire.

The indictment documents the measures Domrani allegedly took to gain control of the market, including enlisting the muscle of Yossi Malka, an alleged Jerusalem-area crime boss.

The charge sheet cites a meeting taped by police in which associates of Domrani warned two local men who intended to open up their own gas business that "Domrani has an interest in the gas company operating in the city." The associates reminded the men what happened to "Arabs" who tried to open a gas business, in an apparent reference to the murder near Sderot in December 2009 of Jamal Shehadeh.

Critical to the collection of evidence in the case was the cooperation with police of Menashe Matatov, a Sderot man who sought to compete with Domrani by opening his own gas business and contacted the police after Malka and his brother Sam warned him against challenging Domrani.

Also indicted yesterday, in this case for tax fraud amounting to NIS 270 million, were Roni Aharon Baranes, Shlomo Hari Azran and David Shabbat. According to the charge sheet issued by southern district prosecutors, the suspects employed threats and false accounting measures to defraud the tax authorities and the owners of failing businesses to whom they extended loans.

The charges against the suspects include money laundering, fraud, tax fraud, false reporting to the tax authorities, forgery, extortion and being accessories to tax evasion.