Suspect Charged With Harrassing Katsav Witnesses Has Criminal Background

The suspect is a 49-year-old retired commander who was dishonorably discharged, has been tried and served prison time for fraud, embezzlement, extortion.

One of the private investigators suspected of harassing witnesses on behalf of former President Moshe Katsav, has a history of ethical misconduct, according documents obtained by Haaretz on Monday.

The suspect, a 49-year-old retired commander who was released two days ago to house arrest, has been brought to court over multiple cases of fraud and embezzlement, and has even served prison time for his criminal misconduct. He has implicated prominent businessmen and politicians in his various and sundry nefarious dealings.

Moshe Katsav - Ilan Assayag - 22.3.2011
Ilan Assayag

The suspect served as an officer in an intelligence unit in the IDF, after which he joined an elite criminal investigation unit in the police. He was expelled from the police in 1991 when he was caught selling five VCR’s illegally.

Bilha Gilor, a judge at the Haifa District Court who presided over one of the retired military man’s cases, wrote over a decade ago that “there is no way of knowing what could bring a man who served in an exclusive Israel Defense Forces unit and then in an elite unit in the police, to take advantage of his talents in the criminal world.”

Gilor was referring to a case in which the suspect was convicted after he fraudulently presented himself as a private investigator or someone close to private investigators and then attempted to extort politicians and businessmen using information he had allegedly collected for their opposition.

The suspect was arrested after the Mayor of Kiryat Yam, Shmuel Siso, reported him to the police for blackmail.

He used forged documents, including court statements, medical assessments and bank records to con 120 thousand NIS from his victims.

In 1999 the suspect was sent to prison for 40 months after reaching a plea bargain to reduce his sentence.

He has since been involved in other illicit activities and in March last year was brought in for using a bugging device, intending to blackmail a Carmiel rabbi.

The suspect arrived at the Rabbinate in Carmiel pretending to be a businessman wishing to open a restaurant. He then offered the rabbi cash in exchange for assistance, hoping he could then frame and extort him.