Kristine L Ming

Ramat Hasharon mayor sentenced to community service for corruption

The Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court on Sunday sentenced Ramat Hasharon Mayor Yitzhak Rochberger to six months community service for his convictions for fraud, breach of public trust, forging corporate and other documents and using forged documents in a likely
career-ending defeat for the mayor.

The Ramat Hasharon mayor who is due to begin his community service on June 25, was also fined NIS 40,000 and was given a six month suspended jail sentence which would come into effect if he again violated similar crimes in the next two years.

The court also found that Rochberger’s crimes constituted moral turpitude, which means he cannot return to public office for at least seven years, likely ending his career in office.

Separately, Rochberger had also been acquitted by Judge Ido Druyan on the charge of using receipts for reimbursement for expenses.

The December 2014 convictions mostly related to Rochberger’s fraudulent receipt of around NIS 118,000 from the local professional development authority during the years 2003-2007.

As head of the authority at the time, a non-full-time position, Rochberger was not authorized to receive a salary.

Yet the conviction said that he received NIS 6,000 each month under the guise of reimbursements for expenses, but which was really functionally an unlawful salary, particularly since he forged documents to receive the “reimbursements” and many of the reimbursements were for personal expenses not related to the authority, such as restaurant and television set bills.

The state was disappointed with the decision as it had requested that Rochberger receive prison time.

It was expected to review the decision in detail before deciding whether to appeal and seek a stiffer sentence with jail time.

The trial opened in October 2013 with Rochberger suspending himself as mayor pending the trial’s outcome.

Explaining Rochberger’s decision to temporarily suspend himself as mayor at the time, lawyer Lior Epstein noted “the defendant has
decided to announce his temporary suspension so that he can focus on the trial.”

Rochberger suspended himself not long after being reelected as mayor despite the corruption charges and the indictment against him being known by the public.

The mayor had said, “I think I have acted responsibly and we have done nothing to obstruct procedures. I am confident that I will be serving as Ramat Hasharon’s mayor for the next five years.”

The dramatic suspension decision had come just after another dramatic decision, this one by the High Court of Justice, ruling that
Rochberger was to be removed as mayor just a month before the last round of local elections in October 2013, in which he won a majority vote of 56% for another candidacy as mayor.

While the High Court did not formally prevent Rochberger running again for re-election, it strongly recommended he refrain from doing so – a recommendation he ignored.

Subsequently, the High Court struck a petition to refire Rochberger and two other indicted and previously fired mayors, noting that the Justice and Interior Ministries had notified it both that a new law for suspending certain indicted mayors was up and running and that they would seek to suspend the mayors.

The petition had been filed by the NGO Movement for Quality of Government in Israel, prior to the new law going into effect, to
refire Bat Yam Mayor Shlomo Lahiani, Rochberger and Upper Nazareth Mayor Shimon Gafsou pending resolution of the indictments against each of them.

Article source: http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Ramat-Hasharon-mayor-sentenced-to-community-service-for-corruption-404584

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