Former deputy interior minister Fania Kirschenbaum, who was at the heart of one of Israel's largest corruption scandals, was sentenced on Wednesday to 10 years in prison for bribery and ordered to pay a NIS 900,000 fine.
Tel Aviv District Court Judge Yaron Levy said the former Yisrael Beytenu senior lawmaker had taken bribes in a "systematic, cunning and sophisticated" manner over six years from eight, separate, unconnected sources. The bribes she received over that time period amounted to some NIS 2 million.
The benefits and cash were used by Kirshenbaum, members of her family, confidants and the Yisrael Beytenu party, he said.
"The role of the court is to point out loud and clear the seriousness of the damage her actions caused to Israeli society and democracy," Levy said. "There is no equal to the intensity of the defendant's corruption and the seriousness of her actions."
The court ordered to delay the beginning of Kirschenbaum's sentence until September 5 to allow her to appeal.
Attorney Giora Aderet, who represented Kirschenbaum along with attorneys Alon Klein and Oren Aderet, said they would appeal to the Supreme Court "the severity" of the sentence, calling it a "cruel sentence with no drop of mercy."
"Such punishment for offenses of this kind has never been handed out, it is extremely harsh," he added.
In addition, the judge sentenced former Agriculture Ministry director-general Rami Cohen to 30 months in prison and ordered to pay a NIS 180,000 fine.
Kirschenbaum, whose right-hand man David Godovsky is serving a six-year prison sentence for inappropriately funneling large sums of money to various organizations in exchange for kickbacks, is the second prominent public figure to be convicted in the massive corruption case.
Kirschenbaum was one of 36 serving and former officials who were implicated in a large-scale corruption investigation that began in 2014. At least 17 suspects in the probe have already been convicted, including former tourism minister and Yisrael Beytenu lawmaker Stas Misezhnikov.
Misezhnikov served a 15-month prison term after being convicted in October 2017.
He was convicted of attempting to secure employment for his romantic partner in 2012 by funding a student festival in Eilat using ministry funds, which amounted to over NIS 1 million.