In a bribery scandal that continues to turn the police and the state prosecution inside out, the state will bring a plea bargain for court approval on Wednesday – one in which a senior policeman has agreed to turn state’s witness against an even more senior and still unnamed police official.
Late Monday night, the Justice Ministry announced that a gag order had been lifted on its deal with indicted former police commander Supt. Eran Malka to testify against an officer who was only one rank below Insp.- Gen. Yohanan Danino.
On May 14, Malka was indicted in the Jerusalem District Court – along with former chief Tel Aviv state prosecutor Ruth David, lawyer Ronel Fisher, businessman Yair Biton and several others – in one of the wildest bribery schemes ever uncovered in the country.
Malka is accused of passing on information to David and Fisher in exchange for bribes, to help the two attorneys outwit police who were investigating their clients.
David, who is to be arraigned along with Fisher before the Jerusalem District Court on Wednesday, was head of the state prosecution’s Tel Aviv office and one of the most powerful prosecutors in the country – to the point that those occupying her office were under consideration to head the entire national prosecutorial apparatus.
When she, Malka, and Fisher were indicted, the belief was that all of the alleged culprits had been netted. The Justice Ministry had also repeatedly denied that Malka would get a plea bargain for naming other police officials involved in crimes. But the latest announcement means that at least one more major law-enforcement figure will likely fall.
The plea bargain that the ministry discussed for the first time late Monday indicated that Malka would not get jail time cut from his anticipated sentence. However, media reports said his sentence would not include economic penalties, leaving his family financially whole.
In exchange, Malka reportedly provided the police with information against a high-ranking police official whom Biton allegedly flew in to Budapest, gave limo rides and promised a cushy job in one of his companies upon retirement from the police.
Malka also reportedly provided additional evidence to bring more charges against David.
Leading into David’s indictment, which Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein and State Attorney Shai Nitzan approved personally, Nitzan had said the involvement of such a high-level law-enforcement official as David in a bribery scandal was “without precedent.”
David retired from public service in recent years, and joined Fisher’s law firm in 2013.
On May 14, the Justice Ministry also announced that Weinstein had given police his approval to perform an initial investigation of whether David acted improperly in any cases between 2002 and 2010, when she was head of the Tel Aviv office.
Malka was a high-level investigator in the police, and Fisher had represented top police commanders like Dep.-Ch. Ephraim Bracha and power brokers like Ashdod Port union head Alon Hassan.
The 29-page indictment states that Malka, in his capacity as a top investigator, gathered a variety of secrets relating to the Lahav 443 National Fraud Unit investigations – both those he was running and those run by his colleagues. He was privy to some of the state’s most sensitive intelligence secrets, the exposure of which could severely harm the public interest, the indictment said.
Over the years, he allegedly shared many of these secrets with Fisher – such as when surprise arrests were scheduled, what questions would be asked in interrogations, and classified information – as they initiated an illegal and unofficial economic partnership.
According to the indictment, Malka sold information about some of the most sensitive and classified investigations in exchange for bribes, harming the basic ethics of the police.
Fisher, the indictment stated, under the veil of his prominence in the legal community and his many connections, used the information he received to frustrate and obstruct ongoing investigations against his clients.
David was charged with obstruction of justice in two different cases, as well as receiving assets obtained through a felony.
Much of the case broke when Hassan provided details to the police while he was under investigation.
That development included a sting operation in which Hassan, in cooperation with police, set up Fisher by arranging to give the lawyer $150,000 for illegal purposes.
The case further broke open when “Ayin,” an employee of Fisher’s who has turned state’s witness and whose name is currently under gag order, revealed many of the defendants’ alleged schemes.
The indictment described the defendants’ process of illegally sharing information as follows: Malka created a secret email address, “Alfoniv-7,” for sending Fisher information.
Malka would then inform Ayin with a WhatsApp message that she should “go into 7,” code for Fisher’s employee to check the illegal emails. Ayin would access the secret email account, print out the material and deliver it to Fisher, or place it into a special office drawer designated for that information.
Malka would also illegally provide Fisher with information during face-to-face meetings, as well as via WhatsApp messages. The former police investigator would tip off Fisher as to who was being investigated, so Fisher could meet the suspects and impress them with his knowledge of the secret cases against them – of which they were still unaware – as well as with his police connections.
By doing so, Fisher aimed to get the suspects to hire him as their defense lawyer.
One major case mentioned was a 2012 classified investigation in which Malka was involved, against now-imprisoned crime boss Yitzhak Abergil and Biton and his associates.
Biton has been separately indicted for a scheme of moving NIS 50 million from a public company to Abergil’s interests, including a casino in Romania.
Fisher was Biton’s lawyer at the time, and both Fisher and David were friendly with Biton.
In 2013 and part of 2014, Malka provided Fisher with significant classified information to help the latter fend off charges against Biton. In March 2014, Fisher met with David and illegally reviewed the classified material they had received in order to strategize for Biton how to beat the investigation and interrogation.
Fisher and David then flew to Budapest to meet with Biton and illegally revealed to him the classified information they had obtained, which David carried in an envelope. They did the same again on April 30, 2014.
On May 4, 2014, Malka warned Fisher that Biton’s surprise arrest was set for May 7 – three days later – and suggested that Biton pretend to have to go to the hospital that day so he could not be arrested. Biton was hospitalized at Hadassah University Medical Center, Ein Kerem, and his surprise arrest was postponed until May 19.
Prior to that date, Malka warned Fisher again, and Fisher had Biton sleep over at his house on May 19.
The police then arrested Biton at Fisher’s house, but Fisher and Malka had allegedly committed additional obstruction of justice crimes.
The indictment also deals with one other obstruction of justice case involving David, Malka, and Fisher.