Beit Shemesh mayor to be charged with fraudulently obtaining BA

Beit Shemesh mayor Daniel Vaknin is facing criminal charges for fraudulently obtaining a BA, the Justice Ministry announced Tuesday, the second public figure to face such an indictment in Israel in the last year. According to a draft charge sheet compiled by the state attorney's office, Vaknin fraudulently attained a degree in psychology from the Israeli branch of the US-based Burlington College by copying the majority of the work he submitted to the university for the degree, the Justice Ministry said in a press release. Moreover, after attaining his degree in such a manner, Vaknin went on to submit his candidacy for the office of an Institute for Higher Education, the ministry said. The state attorney's office has offered the mayor a personal legal hearing on the case within 30 days before they file a criminal indictment against him. Vaknin said Tuesday in reaction that he would be proven innocent. He added that the university allowed joint work, which he said he did with his sister. The college in question is the same one where Shas MK Yair Peretz submitted works which he later confessed he did not write. Last year, Peretz was indicted in a Tel Aviv court on charges of trying to falsely obtain an academic degree from Bar-Ilan University as well as from Burlington College's Israeli branch. Peretz, who received his psychology bachelor's degree from Burlington through a correspondence course, later admitted that he turned in a paper that he did not write as his thesis. The parliamentarian added that he turned in other students' papers after changing the names on them to his own, boldly asserting that 70 percent of degree-holders in Israel have done the same thing.