Beit Shemesh mayor to be tried for 'fraudulent' US degree

Beit Shemesh Mayor Daniel Vaknin will be indicted for fraudulently obtaining a bachelor's degree in psychology from the US-based Burlington College, becoming the second public figure to face such charges in Israel in the last year, the Justice Ministry announced Sunday. The decision to press charges against the mayor was made by state prosecutor Eran Shendar three months after he held a hearing on the issue with the mayor. According to a draft of the indictment, Vaknin attained the degree from the Israeli branch of the college by plagiarizing the majority of his works from other students. Moreover, after attaining his degree in such a manner, Vaknin went on to submit his candidacy to the Council of Higher Education in Israel, citing his Burlington University degree as a qualification, the indictment states. The indictment will be submitted to the Beit Shemesh Magistrate's Court later this week. Vaknin has previously said that he would be proven innocent, adding that the university allowed joint work, which he said he did with his sister. The college in question is the same one where former Shas MK Yair Peretz submitted works which he later confessed he did not write. Earlier this year, Peretz was convicted in a Tel Aviv court for submitting papers written by others to fraudulently obtain a university degree. The former parliamentarian confessed 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. Peretz resigned from Parliament immediately after the verdict.