Ex-Bat Yam Mayor Released From Prison Early After Graft Conviction

Shlomi Lahiani served five months for accepting cash to promote the interests of local businessmen.

Ex-Bat Yam Mayor Shlomo Lahiani leaving Hermon Prison after serving a five-month corruption sentence, North Tzalmon Creek Junction, May 13, 2016.
Gil Eliahu

Ex-Bat Yam Mayor Shlomi Lahiani was released from prison Friday after serving five months of an eight-month sentence for breach of trust.

The parole board granted Lahiani’s request for a three-month reduction, which the prosecution had opposed.

“This was a complicated period,” Lahiani said as he left Hermon Prison. “I don’t think I’m ready to summarize it, but the main thing is it’s over and I’m going home. I’m going with my wife to Lake Kinneret and then back to Bat Yam.”

In May 2014 Lahiani was convicted in a plea bargain on three counts of breach of trust. In the deal, a bribery charge was dropped.

The ex-mayor confessed to receiving money from Bat Yam businessmen in exchange for promoting their interests and using the money to cover debts in a company he owns. He was also convicted of asking municipal workers in the Tel Aviv suburb to take out loans and transfer the money to him.

Lahiani at first denied the allegations, but in the plea deal he admitted he knew that his actions were illegal. In September 2014 the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court sentenced him to six months of community service and ruled that his conduct was marked by moral turpitude, precluding him from running for public office for seven years after his release from prison.

The prosecution appealed the light sentence, arguing that Lahiani’s offenses required prison time. The District Court then increased the term to eight months.

“It is hard to conceive of harsher circumstances of breach of trust than those contained in the three counts of the current indictment,” the District Court judges wrote at the time, adding that Lahiani had “ignored any aspect of propriety in a public institution and integrity, even for appearance’s sake.”