Former Bat Yam Mayor Gets 8 Months in Prison Upon State Appeal

Court accepts state appeal to harshen sentence for conviction of breach of trust; Shlomo Lahiani is expected to start serving his sentence in June.

Tomer Appelbaum

The Tel Aviv District Court imposed a harsher sentence Monday on a former mayor of Bat Yam who was convicted last year on three counts of breach of trust.

Shlomo Lahiani was sentenced last year to six months' community service and received a 250,000-shekel ($67,840) fine. On Monday, upon state appeal, his punishment was harshened to eight months in prison. He will still have to pay the fine.

The former mayor is scheduled to start serving his sentence on June 1. His attorney, Yaron Kostelitz, asked the court to allow Lahiani to submit an appeal to the Supreme Court.

The judges criticized Lahiani's actions as mayor, writing in their ruling that "it is hard to imagine harsher circumstances of breach of trust than those described by the three counts in the current indictment. The defendant ignores every aspect of good governance, public morality and integrity, even for the sake of appearance."

The state had appealed the sentence in November, claiming it did not fit the crimes committed. The ruling, the prosecution said, "sets us, as a society, sets us years back, and does not follow the path set by the Supreme Court according to which there is a need to take a stronger stance with public corruption offenders." It asked the court to sentence Lahiani to 12 months in jail.

Lahiani will not be able to return to public office for seven years, after the court last year ruled that his offenses constituted moral turpitude.

Lahiani pleaded guilty in May to breach of trust, in return for which the state dropped charges of bribery and corruption against him. He admitted to taking 700,000 shekels from the two owners of a café on the Bat Yam promenade and a restaurant in the coastal city, south of Tel Aviv. He used the money to pay off debts owed by his construction company, Alshav.