'Star is Born' judge arrested for alleged mob ties

Singer Margalit Tzanani is arrested along with organized crime members following undercover investigation by Lahav 433 police unit.

By
August 16, 2011 10:47
2 minute read.
Margalit Tzna'ani

Margalit Tzna'ani 311 . (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons (CC) by Eman)

 
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Singer Margalit Tzanani and several members of the alleged crime organization led by Amir Mulner were arrested by police early on Tuesday on suspicion of extorting a music agent over a debt.

The arrest has taken the entertainment world by surprise and has startled Tzanani’s many fans around the country.

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According to the police’s suspicions, Tzanani, who is also a judge on the hit TV music contest series A Star is Born, accused her agent, Assaf Atadegi, of failing to pay a debt of tens of thousands of shekels.

Atadegi also represents a contestant on the show, Omer Adam, who began his musical career by appearing on the program as a contestant.

Tzanani had reportedly claimed that Atadegi owed her a portion of his earnings from representing Adam.

Tzanani allegedly turned to the underworld seeking mediation to solve the dispute, and received a “ruling” saying that Atadegi should pay her the funds. The agent was allegedly informed by underworld elements of the decision.

Police suspect members of Mulner’s organization had offered their “services” to collect the debt.



Furthermore, according to Israel Radio, police suspect another criminal who is currently serving a sentence asked Tzanani to make a judgment on the TV show. Police are said to be investigating that allegation.

Tzanani’s lawyer, Shahar Hatzroni, said the singer was shocked by the allegations against her.

He said she denied all of the allegations.

A law enforcement source told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that the investigation was still at “an early operational phase.”

The arrests came following a two-month undercover investigation, during which undercover agents from the National Economic Crimes Unit and the Lahav 433 unit followed members of Mulner’s organization and Tzanani.

On Tuesday, police raided the singer’s home and those of the organized crime suspects.

Police said in a statement that “following an undercover investigation, a number of suspects were arrested.

They are suspected of extortion, using threats and conspiracy to commit a crime.”

Senior alleged mob kingpin Amir Mulner, considered an explosives expert by police, was released from prison in July after serving 31 months behind bars for conspiracy to commit a crime and illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition.

Since his release, police have closely monitored Mulner and his associates.

While monitoring the individuals, police stumbled on the alleged affair involving Tzanani and the music agent.

Last week, a number of Mulner’s associates were charged at the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court with launching a vicious and sustained assault on a taxi driver over a parking dispute in Ramat Gan.

The assault victim was allegedly kicked and beaten repeatedly, told to leave the area permanently, and suffered a broken eye socket, the charge sheet said.

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