College director suspected of academic fraud [pg. 4]

The director and the enrichment division coordinator of the Beersheba-based Kedma College were placed under house arrest Sunday afternoon, following suspicions that the institution sold course completion certificates to people who never attended a single lecture. F ollowing a Channel 10 expos , in which photographic evidence was presented documenting the sales of certificates, the National Fraud Squad's southern office launched an investigation into the college, focusing on director Esther Palachi and enrichment division coordinator Dalia Madmon. The two were arrested on Friday, with police saying that they might charge the two with forgery and fraud. The courses for which the certificates were allegedly issued were offered to both government and private sector employees, and were considered additional education, which then increased the salaries of government employees who presented the completion certificates. Following a remand hearing on Sunday evening and after posting bail, both Palachi and Madmon were released to house arrest until Friday. The two were also forbidden from leaving the country. Requests by both Palachi and Madmon's attorneys to place a gag order on the details of the case were denied by Judge Ido Roseen, who said that "a reasonable suspicion exists that the two defendants committed the offenses ascribed to them, and there is thus no reason to harm the public's right to know" the details of the case. The phenomenon of government employees purchasing degrees in order to raise their salaries has been investigated many times in recent years. In March 2006, Shas MK Yair Peretz was found guilty of trying to falsely obtain an academic degree from Bar-Ilan University and falsely obtaining one from Burlington College's Israel branch. Peretz, who resigned from the Knesset a week before his sentencing, received one year's suspended sentence and a fine of NIS 6,000 after being convicted of receiving an academic degree through deceit.