A magistrate court in Jerusalem has convicted Sara Netanyahu, the wife of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a corruption case. The court, a plea bargain, fined her more than $15,000 for misusing state funds.
Mrs Netanyahu was indicted on charges of fraud and breach of trust last year after the State Attorney’s office accused her of misusing about $100,000 at luxury restaurants while the official residence employed a full-time chef between the years 2010 and 2013.
The settlement saw her admit to a more minor charge of “intentionally exploiting the mistake of someone else,” specifically by misleading officials who didn’t realize she already benefited from chefs on the government payroll.
Under the terms of the bargain, Sara Netanyahu agreed to pay $2,800 in fines and hand the remaining $12,500 back to the state. The settlement also reduced the overspending charge to $50,000.
However, Sara Netanyahu’s lawyer, Yossi Cohen, portrayed his client as a victim, saying she had “been put through hell” the past four years with a public shaming campaign that was due only to her public standing.
“Sara Netanyahu is today paying a heavy and painful personal cost to put an end to this witch hunt, and I hope that indeed this is the end of the story,” he said after the hearing.
Her husband is facing an indictment on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, pending a hearing scheduled for early October. He has pushed for a postponement and can still request an extension from the Supreme Court.
He is accused of accepting lavish gifts from billionaire friends and promising to promote advantageous legislation for a major newspaper in exchange for favorable coverage. He vehemently denies wrongdoing, portraying himself as a victim of media-orchestrated persecution against him and his family in an attempt to oust him from power.