Bagel Guy Gets 10 Years in Jail for $200K in Unpaid Fines

Imprisoned for Peddling Without a License


By Haaretz

Published July 24, 2013.

There’s a cell in Jerusalem’s Rimonim Prison that has two inmates. One was convicted of selling dozens of kilograms of dangerous drugs, and sentenced to six years. The second is Zaki Sabah, 54, who sells bagelach (a long, oval shaped bread) and was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment for not paying municipal fines imposed on him for peddling without a license.

Sabah, a resident of the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Isawiya, will probably be released once some kind of payment plan is worked out. But what is a bagelach seller doing in prison in the first place, let alone with a harsher sentence than a drug trafficker?

The sentence was imposed two weeks ago by Local Affairs Court Judge Tamar Nimrodi. Her decision was a technical one, arrived at by aggregating 254 files opened against Sabah for peddling without a license. The thousands of tickets he received since 2005 had ballooned to fines totaling NIS 731,910.21, or about $20,000.

Because the nonpayment of any fine has a prescribed option of a few days in prison, the number of days that had accumulated totaled 3,554. Most of the hearings in his case were held in absentia, and since he had not reached a payment arrangement with the municipality, the judge consolidated the cases and approved the cumulative imprisonment orders. Shortly after the ruling, Sabah was imprisoned.

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