Sara Netanyahu pleads guilty as part of corruption case plea deal
17 June 2019
PM’s wife admits to deliberately exploiting mistake of others in ordering catering to official residence; will pay back one third of NIS 175,000 bill she ran up despite having own chef on site.
A deal was pressed heavily by Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court president Avital Chen, who approved the deal, making the conviction final and giving Sara Netanyahu a criminal record, although the charges were reduced as part of the agreement.
Her overspending charges were reduced to $50,000, and she has agreed to pay $2,800 in fines and return about $12,500 to the state.
“The judge said that ‘Sara is a stranger to the criminal world’ and determined that she did not commit fraud,” the prime minister said in his Facebook post. “The judge said that everything needed to be viewed proportionately… he confirmed in his conclusion that there was no doubt that the events [where Sara had caused prepared food to be illegally ordered] were state events,” with foreign dignitaries and not just for her personal benefit.
13 June 2019
According to a statement released by Israel’s Justice Ministry, Sara Netanyahu, the wife of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, agreed to plead guilty to the lesser charge of taking unfair advantage of a mistake, on Wednesday in a case concerning illegally ordered meals at the Prime Minister’s residence. She will also pay $15,300 back to the state. The plea bargain negotiations took more than six months and Judge Mordechay Caduri pressed the sides to come to a compromise soon.
She used state funds to pay waiters to serve the meals on weekends and during private events. She ordered catered meals worth a total of $50,000. The orders were illegal under Israeli law because there was a cook employed at the prime minister’s residence at the time, whose job it was to cater for the prime minister, his family and their guests.
On Sunday, Jerusalem’s Magistrate’s Court is expected to approve Sara Netanyahu’s plea bargain, which will mark her with a criminal record, the Jerusalem Post reported.
In 2016, a court ruled that she had mistreated a housecleaner and awarded the man $42,000 in damages. Other employees have accused her of abuse. Former housekeeper Shira Raban is currently suing Sara Netanyahu for $63,000 in damages over mistreatment and harassment.
Ezra Saidoff, former deputy chief of the prime minister’s bureau, has also reached a plea deal with prosecutors, according to his attorney. He will have to pay a fine of 10,000 shekels and do 120 hours of community service.
Benjamin Netanyahu faces potential charges of bribery and breach of trust in three separate corruption investigations. Netanyahu’s legal team has sought to delay the hearing so that he would have enough time to pass an immunity law in the Knesset, effectively shielding him from prosecution.
In the first case, known as Case 1000, he is alleged to have received gifts from overseas billionaires totalling $280,000, including cigars, champagne, jewellery and more. In another case, known as Case 2000, deals with alleged negotiations between Netanyahu and Arnon “Noni” Mozes, the owner of one of Israel’s largest newspapers, Yedioth Ahronoth. Netanyahu asked for favourable coverage of his party in return for limiting the circulation of Yedioth Ahronoth’s largest rival, Israel Hayom. In another case, known as Case 4000, Netanyahu offered regulatory benefits to Bezeq worth $280 million, in exchange for favourable news coverage from Walla News!, an online news organization related to Bezeq. The Attorney General said he intended to indict Shaul Elovitch, primary shareholder of Bezeq, with bribery, pending a hearing. CNN reported.