(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Less than a week after one of Israel's most notorious crime family's name hit the headlines for a failed hit attempt, family boss Ya'akov Alperon was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of tampering with the bidding process for a Lake Kinneret beach.
Alperon was one of three people, including an Israel Tax Authority employee, arrested Tuesday by the Amakim Subdistrict Central Investigative Unit under suspicion of extortion and threats.
Alperon was nabbed at his Ra'anana house where only last week, a bomb was found attached to his sons' car. Alperon has been under house arrest in Ra'anana for over a year.
Police suspect that the crime kingpin illegally influenced the contracting process to operate the Shikmim Beach, located within the Tiberias municipal boundaries. They believe that Alperon confidant Yaron Sror had acted in place of the boss in placing a bid on the contract.
Strangely, records show that the bidding on the attractive beachfront property was light - and virtually nonexistent, another factor leading investigators to believe that Alperon's hands were in the project from the beginning.
Representatives of the crime family - and even Alperon himself - may have threatened municipality officials and employees of the Economic Company, the agency that managed the beach contract. Employees reportedly described yelling and cursing in the company's halls, and the company's former director has already made a statement to detectives regarding the affair.
Sror was arrested three weeks ago, but then released after police decided to press on with the investigation against Alperon. Investigators said that the Kinneret beach offered the crime lord an easy opportunity to launder money, as there was no oversight over documented sales of entrance admission, chair rentals and similar related sources of income.
Sror, 39, a Tiberias resident, was also arrested Tuesday, as was Yehudit Damari, 33, also a Tiberias resident and an employee of the Israel Tax Authority's Income tax division. Police suspect that Damari would pass information to Alperon or his representatives.
Police plan to further question employees and officials in the Tiberias municipality, and further arrests are anticipated.
All three appeared for remand extensions Tuesday - Alperon will remain behind bars for the next five days, Sror for a week, and Damari until Friday.
On another front in the fight against Israel's criminal underworld, police arrested prominent gangster Francois Abutbul Tuesday under suspicion that he stabbed another known criminal, Itzik Gefen, a few weeks ago. Gefen, who is associated with Abutbul's brother Assi - the head of the Netanya-based family- was lightly wounded.
Francois Abutbul was released from prison earlier this year after completing a five-year sentence. He is expected to be brought to the Petah Tikvah Magistrate's Court for a remand extension on Wednesday morning.