Former leader of the Israeli Shas
party. (The Sephardic
Guardians of World Torah
). Deri'i was imprisoned for embezzlement and fraud. Basically, the story was that he and two colleagues had been funnelling public money
into fictitious yeshivas
(Torah schools), and also feathering their own nests - Deri'i bought a luxurious apartment seemingly way beyond his modest finances. He was Interior Minister
at the time, and was able to do pretty much as he wanted unchallenged. Given the nature of Israeli politics, the support of Shas is needed to get anything done, and the establishment was scared of offending Deri'i.
In trial, Deri'i said that the money for the apartment had come from the Werderber family - a poor pair of Holocaust survivors living in New York. The Werderbers had apparently adopted Deri'is wife Yaffa, as she was an orphan. The strange thing was that they had very little money, so how were they able to subsidise an apartment for their adoptive daughter and her husband? That question is unlikely to be answered, since Werderber died during the investigation. His wife Esther also died: she was run down by a New York cab (driven by an Israeli, in a bizarre twist of fate) - so she too was unable to help the investigators.
So after much legal to-ing and fro-ing, and failed appeals Deri'i ended up in Masiyahu prison. He won't be there for too much longer - his friends in the Knesset just passed a law lowering the eligibility for early release for good behaviour (half of the sentence instead of two-thirds). This has become known as the Deri'i law.