Former Israeli Judge Who Fled to Peru to Escape Fraud Charges Gets 5.5 Years in Jail

Dan Cohen agrees to plea bargain, which cuts six months off of his expected to jail time on account of three months already served in Peru prior to extradition, and another three months in Israel.

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The Tel Aviv District Prosecutor's Office reached a plea bargain Tuesday with former Judge Dan Cohen that will put him behind bars for five and a half years.

Cohen, who was extradited from Peru last year, agreed to confess to an amended indictment on charges of bribery, fraud, breach of trust and obstruction of justice.

The prosecutor's office will also seize NIS 4 million of Cohen's assets and he will pay a fine of NIS 6 million. Of Cohen's six-year sentence, six months will be reduced on account of time served - three months in jail in Peru awaiting extradition and three in Israel.

The plea bargain contains no obligation on Cohen's part to reveal any co-conspirators in the case. The prosecution will ask the court to impose a suspended sentence on Cohen as well, at its discretion.

Negotiations between the prosecution and Cohen's lawyers began while he was still in Peru, to which he had fled in 2005. The prosecution demanded his return to Israel, his confession to accepting millions in bribes, and at least four years in prison. Negotiations continued after Cohen was returned to Israel last March, mediated by Judge David Rozen.

Meanwhile, the prosecution had stiffened its terms and was demanding a six-year sentence. Only on Tuesday did Cohen agree to a six-year sentence as part of the plea bargain, including the six months he had spent behind bars in Peru and Israel. The prosecution refused to count the 18 months Cohen spent in Peru under house arrest as part of the time served in his sentence.

The amended indictment will be presented to the court on Thursday.

After Cohen was brought back to Israel, the court ordered he remain remanded during the proceedings against him. Cohen appealed this decision but the Tel Aviv District Court rejected his appeal. Judge Chaled Kabub, who was selected to hear the case, scheduled the proceedings to begin in September. On Tuesday, The parties reported to Kabub that they had reached a plea bargain.

Cohen will plead guilty to pocketing one million Euros, equivalent to the amount of NIS 4 million to be seized, as a bribe when he was an Israel Electric Corporation board member, in connection with a hotly contested bidding war between the Siemens Corporation and General Electric to sell the IEC three huge gas-powered turbines for NIS 370 million.

Cohen will also plead guilty to breach of trust for failing to report to the IEC Board of Directors of his relationship with the controlling owner of Rogosin Industries, Ezra Harel in an affair involving the IEC's purchase of land from Rogosin Industries.

In 1996, Cohen, who was chairman of the IEC's Asset Committee at the time, passionately told the IEC Board of Directors that if the IEC did not buy the land, Israel could find itself without a regular supply of electricity. The deal cost the Israeli taxpayer approximately NIS 62.5 million. According to the original indictment, Cohen received millions of dollars for promoting the sale to the IEC Board of Directors. However, the charge of bribery in connection with the Rogosin land affair, as well as, a charge of falsifying corporate documents, was removed from the amended indictment.

To this day, 16 years after the land was purchased, it has not begun to serve its original purpose - the construction of a power station.

Cohen, 71, fled to Peru because it didn't have an extradition treaty with Israel. However, over the years Israel exerted much effort in bringing Cohen to justice.

Cohen's attorney, Eitan Maoz, said "The plea bargain was reached following extremely extensive negotiations with the most senior levels of the prosecution, and under the mediation of Judge David Rozen. The agreement reflects a significant change to the charges in the original far-reaching indictment the prosecution submitted a few months ago."

Former judge Dan Cohen in Tel Aviv District Court.Credit: Daniel Bar-On

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