Head of regional fire fighters union arrested for alleged embezzlement scheme

The investigation has been dubbed the "Red Hot Affair."

firefighters 88 (photo credit: )
firefighters 88
(photo credit: )
The chairman of the Fire Brigades Union in the Jezreel Valley and five suspected accomplices were arrested on Sunday for allegedly running a multi-million shekel embezzlement scheme for several years. The investigation has been dubbed the "Red Hot Affair" by Northern Branch Fraud Unit detectives and centers on Avi Zagori, 48, of Migdal Ha'emek. It began two years ago, when police received information on financial irregularities within the union. Police say Zagori, who is also a member of the Migdal Ha'emek Municipal Council, embezzled millions of shekels in cash and checks, stealing payments that reached the Fire Brigades Union for work carried out by the Fire Service. The money found its way into the bank accounts of Zagori and his family members via several complicated paths, police said, adding that investigators had uncovered "systematic theft of funds that has lasted for years." Checks sent to the union were cashed at a foreign exchange outlet and transferred to Zagori's account. An event hall in the North received payment for an event that never occurred - the money then found its way to Zagori. A number of business owners are suspected to have collaborated in the scheme. Zagori's daughter is said to have received hundreds of thousands of shekels through her bank account while she served in the IDF. Zagori's girlfriend, who has no management experience, was given a management position in the union after forging her resumé, claiming to have worked as a manager of a fictitious steel company, police said. On Sunday afternoon, Zagori turned himself into police after five other suspects, including family members and associates, were arrested. They face charges that include fraud, forgery, embezzlement, breach of trust, money laundering and forging corporate documents. Police have detained four additional suspects for questioning. The suspects will appear in the Nazareth Magistrate's Court on Monday morning for a custody hearing.