|Photo by: Ariel Jerozolimski|
Police arrest leading members of Bar-Moha crime ring
By MELANIE LIDMAN AND RON FRIEDMAN
An eight-month police investigation ends with 10 indicted for being members in a gambling, extortion, loan-sharking ring.
An eight-month police investigation reached its end Thursday with the indictment
of 10 people suspected of running an organized crime syndicate in the Jerusalem
At the head of the organization, according to the indictment, sat
Yitzhak Bar Moha, who ran the gang from his cell in Hasharon Prison, where he
was serving a sentence for prior convictions. It said Bar Moha’s wife Evelyn set
up conference calls to the prison’s public phone booth for this purpose. The
gang is alleged to have been involved in loan-sharking, illegal gambling, money
laundering and extortion.
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According to the indictment, borrowers were in
some instances charged upwards of 200 percent annual interest on their
black-market loans, and were violently threatened when they did not pay
Police said that some were attacked and beaten or had stun grenades
thrown at their homes in an effort to intimidate them.
According to the
Tax Authority, which cooperated with Jerusalem District police on the
investigation, the ring made hundreds of thousands of shekels a month in profits
just from the loans. The indictment stated that the gang’s overall income during
the time it was active was in excess of NIS 3.5 million.
listed dozens of alleged offenses, including conspiracy to commit a crime, tax
evasion, possession of illegal firearms, aggravated assault, theft and fraud.
Many of the charges were filed under clauses of the Combat Against Crime
Organizations Law, a relatively new piece of legislation passed in 2003 to help
address a growing phenomenon. Its main aim is to convict senior members of crime
rings without having to prove a direct link between them and the criminal
activities committed by lower-ranking members.
According to the law, “the
head of a crime organization or anyone who fulfills the following roles meant to
advance the criminal activities of the organization is liable to 10 years in
jail.” It was first put to use in 2008 when the Tel Aviv District Court
convicted 12 people of organized crime offenses.
Organized crime in
Israel is usually concentrated in the Tel Aviv area and often deals with drug
One example is the infamous Abergil crime family; brothers
Yitzhak and Meir Abergil were extradited to the US just five weeks ago to face
charges of murder, money laundering, drug trafficking and blackmail.
Jerusalem, organized crime almost exclusively centers on economic crimes like
black-market loans and casinos.
Police have been aware of the Bar Moha
crime ring for years, although its hierarchy has undergone several changes with
the incarceration of some of its leaders.
In January 2004, four members,
including Yitzhak Bar Moha and his brother Moshe, were sentenced to seven years
for a failed bomb attack against a rival mob family.
“There is a vacuum
created when crime bosses go to jail, which means new people come in and we have
to start all over,” Jerusalem Police Chief Cmdr. Aharon Franco said on
Police started a full-time investigation of the Bar Moha ring
eight months ago. In September, they had enough of a picture of its hierarchy to
begin gathering intelligence on specific suspects.
In the course of the
investigation, police interviewed more than 200 people, including members of the
gang, borrowers and others.
Investigators also seized 10 cars, four homes
and hundreds of thousands of shekels in cash, together worth more than NIS 6
The Jerusalem District Attorney’s Office asked the court to keep
all the suspects under arrest until the conclusion of legal proceedings,
claiming they posed a danger to the public. The court agreed, but released three
of the suspects, including Evelyn Bar Moha, to house arrest.
also approved the seizure of cars and real estate properties belonging to the
suspects until the end of legal proceedings.