Court upholds US extradition request for Israelis

Defendants allegedly defrauded elderly Americans in fake lottery scams; four others were extradited in January.

By
April 2, 2012 12:01
2 minute read.
Prisoner board plane extradition (illustrative)

Prisoner board plane for extradition (Illustrative) 370. (photo credit: Courtesy / Israel Police)

 
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The Supreme Court ruled unanimously on Monday to uphold a lower court ruling granting a US request to extradite two Israeli citizens charged in the US in connection with a fraudulent multimillion dollar lottery telemarketing scheme.

Michelle Carolin Yuval and Limor Yuval are two of 11 Israelis arrested in 2009 and wanted on serious fraud charges in the US. Israel Police’s Tel Aviv Fraud Division cooperated with the FBI to investigate the fraud, and in 2009 Israel agreed to comply with a US request that the suspects be extradited to stand trial in the US.

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In January, the US attorney for the Southern District of New York announced that four Israelis had been indicted in the US on charges related to their participation in multiple lottery telemarketing schemes. Avi Ayache, Yaron Bar and Ian Kaye were arrested in Israel in January 2009; the fourth defendant, Shai Kadosh, remained a fugitive until his January 2011 arrest in Israel. However, to date, extradition orders against Michelle Yuval and Limor Yuval have not been enforced, the result of an appeal they filed against the 2010 Jerusalem District Court ruling to extradite them.

According to indictments and other documents filed in Manhattan Federal Court from around 2005 to 2009, the defendants allegedly operated phony lottery schemes from Israel, targeting hundreds of elderly US victims.

To identify their victims, the indictment alleges, the defendants purchased names and contact numbers of US residents from list brokers, and solicited information from their victims about their finances by falsely telling them they had won large cash prizes in lotteries.

The defendants allegedly defrauded their victims of around $25 million by persuading them to pay “fees and taxes” to receive the lottery prizes.

In the appeal, lawyers for Michelle Yuval and Limor Yuval argued that even though an extradition treaty exists between the US and Israel, the two defendants should remain in Israel because they allegedly committed the offenses from this country.

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Michelle Yuval, who gave birth to a son while on remand, also appealed against the Jerusalem District Court’s ruling to extradite her without her baby. She argued that this decision was against Israeli public policy.

Against the appeal, lawyers for the state argued that should the Supreme Court reverse the lower court’s decision and deny the request to extradite the two defendants, that decision would mean Israel agreed to shelter criminals operating within its territory who use both technology and geographical distance to carry out their offenses and cover their tracks. Refusing the extradition would damage Israel’s ability to cooperate with other countries in the global fight against crime, the state argued.

In refusing the appeals, the panel of justices – Miriam Naor, Esther Hayut and Neal Handel – said that extradition was a legal instrument permitting global cooperation in fighting crime, and that allowing defendants to refuse extradition was against public policy.

Regarding Michelle Yuval, the court said the US authorities would permit visitations between her and her son, and in any case the child has already reached an age where he could no longer stay with his mother in prison.

The US authorities have also agreed that if Michelle Yuval is found guilty, she would be able to serve her sentence in Israel, the justices noted.

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