In the coming weeks, former top Israeli mob boss Yitzhak Abergil will return to the country, after a Los Angeles court approved a prisoner transfer request this week, his lawyer, Yoram Sheftal, told The Jerusalem Post.
“About two months ago he expressed his desire to return here to serve the rest of his sentence.
He wanted to be close to his family and also they wouldn’t let his wife into the United States to visit him there,” Sheftal said on Thursday.
Sheftal estimated that Abergil, 45, will return in the next three weeks and will serve the remaining two and a half years of his sentence.
He added that his client turned to the US authorities on his own, and that as far as he knows there was no initial coordination with Israeli authorities or need to inform them until formally requesting the transfer.
“It’s his right as a prisoner to make this request, it’s not relevant if they [Israeli authorities] knew or not.”
An extradition usually leads to a trial in another country or in rarer cases, such as that of Moshe Ben-Ivgi, to serving a prison sentence for a crime where you have not served the sentence yet.
Here, Israel did not request to bring Abergil back. Rather, Abergil himself requested a “prisoner transfer,” meaning he has already been tried and convicted and is serving his sentence properly, but just wants to serve it in his home country.
The US court ordered that Abergil be allowed to exercise that right, and since he was a resident and citizen, Israeli law allows the Justice Ministry to process and accept his transfer.
An official with the Lahav 433 unit of the Israel Police, popularly known as “the Israeli FBI,” said Thursday that they had not heard anything about Abergil coming back to Israel in the coming weeks and that “last I heard was when we extradited him to the US.”
The decision by US Magistrate Suzanne H. Segal, first reported this week in the Los Angeles-based Jewish Journal, was signed on November 18, and means he should return to Israel within about three weeks.
In May 2012, Abergil, who is incarcerated in federal prison in Lompoc, California, pleaded guilty to being part of a major Ecstasy distribution network.
In his indictment, authorities charged him and his brother Meir Abergil with running one of the largest drug rings in the US, which was tied to accomplices in Jerusalem and California. Meir was also extradited to the US in 2011 but was returned to Israel not long after.
The Abergil crime family was arguably the largest criminal organization in Israel until its power waned with the arrests of Yitzhak and Meir. In the 1990s and in the first decade of the 2000s the organization waged a bloody war with mobster Ze’ev Rosenstein and his associates in the Abutbul organization and elsewhere. It was tied to a string of underworld hits and attempted assassinations across the country.
The organization also feuded at times with Shalom Domrani, who was still building his empire in the south.