Shimon Gapso
Shimon Gapso Photo by Ilan Assayag
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The mayor of Upper Nazareth, Shimon Gapso, should be indicted in connection with a bribery investigation, the police said yesterday, adding this recommendation would go to the state prosecution following completion of an investigation of alleged wrongdoing by the mayor and other senior town officials.

The investigation centered on allegations of bribe taking, fraud and breach of trust in connection with the operation of the Ramle-Lod market at the Upper Nazareth municipal marketplace.

Gapso denies all of the allegations against him. He is suspected of directly or indirectly receiving as much as hundreds of thousands of shekels in bribes over a two-year period, beginning with his election in 2008. Police are said to have also found evidence of criminal wrongdoing on the part of other city officials.

The case is to be transferred to the prosecutor's office for the possible filing of indictments.

Gapso's office issued a statement yesterday expressing confidence that, after the prosecutor considers the evidence, the case will be closed with no charges being filed.

The Upper Nazareth mayor was arrested three months ago on suspicion that he took bribes from the businessman who ran the Ramle-Lod market in Upper Nazareth, who is alleged to have paid the bribes in return for various concessions. An aide to the mayor as well as the chief administrator of the mayor's office were also detained at the time.

At hearings on the matter in December, it was disclosed that police had struck an agreement with a state's witness. However, a lawyer for Gapso's office manager stated then that the police had documents showing that individuals within the force had cast doubt on the witness's credibility from past experience with him.

At the time of the mayor's arrest, Gapso and his associates said they had a recorded conversation that showed that due to a dispute over the operation of the market, the mayor was being falsely accused of criminal conduct. It was also argued that the tape showed no purported bribe money ever reached the mayor.