(June 16, 2019 / JNS) Sara Netanyahu, the wife of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was convicted on Sunday of taking unfair advantage of a mistake after confessing to the offense as part of a plea bargain struck last week regarding alleged misuse of state funds to hire catering for the Prime Minister’s Residence.
Judge Avital Chen of the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court said in his ruling that “indeed, the defendant misused public funds,” though praised Netanyahu for having “taken responsibility and sav[ing] a lot of precious judicial time.”
As part of the deal, the prosecution dropped charges of aggravated fraud. Netanyahu will pay a NIS 10,000 fine ($2,800), and NIS 45,000 ($12,500) in restitution.
Following the verdict, Netanyahu told the judge: “I have suffered enough.”
Attorney Yossi Cohen, who represents Netanyahu, railed against media coverage of the case on Sunday, saying, “This is the result of four years of ugly, biased, libelous leaks that spilled my client’s blood. … The goal was to hurt her husband, topple the government.”
A year ago, Sara Netanyahu and former director-general of the Prime Minister’s Office Ezra Saidoff were charged with fraud and breach of trust for paying $100,000 on catered meals for the residence between September 2010 and March 2013, despite the presence of a full-time chef on staff. The indictment was later amended to approximately $50,000.
Saidoff is also expected to be convicted of taking unfair advantage of a mistake.