Israel's Top Traffic Cop Keeps Job Despite Fine After Corruption Probe

Critics on a special panel say Maj. Gen. Yaron Be'eri should have drawn conclusions and left after taking part in improper fundraising.

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Yaron Be'eri, center, with Yitzhak Aharonovich, left and Yohanan Danino in Jerusalem, Feb. 22, 2015.Credit: Emil Salman
Yaniv Kubovich

Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich’s decision to leave traffic police chief Yaron Be’eri in his job contravenes the recommendation of a panel that probed Be’eri’s alleged improper fundraising and ties to attorney Ronel Fisher, who faces serious corruption allegations.

“A major general who commits disciplinary infractions has to draw conclusions on his own,” said a committee member, who said Be’eri should have resigned from the force. “He has to be white as snow. I don’t understand the police announcement; it stinks.”

On Sunday the police announced the disciplinary action in Be’eri’s case – a fine of two days’ pay.

“The commissioner decided to completely exonerate Maj. Gen. Be’eri from suspicions that he conspired with attorney Ronel Fisher. Regarding his innocent Facebook request for philanthropic donations for children in distress, the commissioner found that Be’eri had deviated from police norms and decided to impose a fine of two days’ pay,” the police said.

According to the statement, the issues examined regarding Be’eri required a disciplinary procedure, not a legal one.

Last spring, Be’eri gave testimony to the Justice Ministry regarding money that had been transferred from Fisher and his clients to a foundation run by Be’eri’s wife that assists special-needs children. Be’eri was questioned about a charity fundraising event organized by his wife. Fisher helped raise funds for the event and solicited donations from his clients.

Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich speaking in December 2015.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

Police believe that Fisher, who allegedly got help and information from other officers for his clients, hoped Be’eri might also help his clients in return for his fundraising efforts, but no evidence was found that Be’eri was aware of Fisher’s intentions.

As a result, last June the State Prosecutor’s Office closed the criminal probe into Be’eri, but the police launched a disciplinary action because police officers are forbidden to take part in fundraising.

Be’eri, in his former position as head of the police’s manpower branch, had been responsible for disciplinary procedures. As a result, the probe into his conduct was assigned to Danny Brinkner, a former senior police commander and Public Security Ministry director general known as a disciplinarian.

The investigative committee he formed had the authority to insist that the police commissioner himself hear the case as a single judge, but did not have the authority to order Be’eri removed.

The committee decided that Be’eri had committed disciplinary infractions and some members said he should have taken the hint and resigned even before his hearing with Alsheich.

“A major general commits a disciplinary violation, he is charged and is found to have committed it, and the punishment he gets is a two-day fine,” said one committee member. “There’s a clear statement here by the commissioner.”

Although the police publish the minutes of disciplinary committees when lower-ranking policemen are involved, the police have not released the minutes of Be’eri’s hearing before Alsheich.

“The single-judge procedure, as opposed to a disciplinary court procedure, is not a public procedure, so the police never publish the minutes of single-judge decisions,” the police said.

Ten days ago Alsheich announced that he was letting Maj. Gen. Roni Ritman, the head of the Lahav 433 anticorruption unit, remain in his post despite allegations of sexual harassment. The attorney general closed a criminal investigation into those allegations, but recommended administrative action.

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