77-Year-Old Counterfeiter Gets a Break in Court

200 shekel bills. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

A Tel Aviv court gave a break to a 77-year-old man who had been convicted of counterfeiting and distributing NIS 200 bills – sentencing him to community service instead of ten years in prison, the standard sentence in such cases. With that, the judge cautioned other would-be counterfeiters not to count on similar mercy if they were arrested and tried for the same crime.

In 2015, the man was indicted for selling 351 forged NIS 200 shekel notes to an underground investigator for NIS 26,900 a year earlier. After his arrest, the defendant agreed to a plea bargain, which would have seen him sent to prison for 15 months, and paying a significant fine. Several months ago, however, he changed his mind and instead went to trial.

Found guilty, the court asked that the defendant be evaluated for his ability to tolerate incarceration by the Parole Service, which recommended that he not be sent to prison at all. After the evaluation, the Service said, the defendant expressed regret for his actions, saying that he had tried to sell the counterfeit bills because he was broke.

In his decision, the judge wrote that despite the seriousness of the crime, he was “going easy” on the defendant because of his age and difficult circumstances. “This defendant is not a young 20-something who rejects the notion of reform, but an elderly man with not much time left, certainly not for a prison sentence.” However, others who came before him with the same crime would not get such a light sentence. “How many other defendants could present such a resume – with both a difficult background and health issues – like this one?” the judge wrote.