Sara Netanyahu pleads guilty as part of corruption case plea deal

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

Yael Freidson|
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's wife Sara on Sunday signed a plea deal over the misuse of state funds for meals at the premier's official residence.
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Under the terms of the plea deal reached last week, Netanyahu admitted during the hearing at Jerusalem Magistrate's Court to deliberately exploiting the mistake of another in ordering meals to the prime minister's residence that cost NIS 175,000 (approx. $50,000).
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Sara Netanyahu Jerusalem court
Sara Netanyahu Jerusalem court
Sara Netanyahu Jerusalem court
(Photo: Alex Kolmoisky)

The deal states that Netanyahu will pay back NIS 55,000 (approx. $12,000) of the NIS 175,000 bill she admitted to running up in private catering for a residence that already had a chef in situ.
She will not have to plead guilty to defrauding the state, as she was accused of doing when the indictment was first filed in June 2018, nor will she stand trial after the case went through a six-month long arbitration process.
The reimbursement to be paid by Netanyahu includes a NIS 45,000 repayment to the state coffers, and a fine of NIS 10,000.
The original sum of NIS 350,000 (approx. $97,000 ) was lowered to NIS 175,000 as part of the plea bargain. As part of the mediation process, the two sides agreed to soften the indictment against Netanyahu, who is convicted of a minor offense as opposed to the original charges of fraud and breach of trust.
Prosecutor Erez Padan told the hearing: "As in any plea bargain, each side makes concessions, sometimes difficult concessions, taking into account its understanding of the case and the chances and risks in handling the case.
The prosecution believes that we made significant concessions and it is fair to assume that the defense also feels this way. Ultimately, the mutual concessions facilitated the delivery of a plea bargain that we believe is balanced."
Netanyahu's lawyer, however, called the sentence a "severe and painful punishment."
"This is one of the most severe, tough and painful punishments that a person I know has been given. This is an intolerable punishment, an inhuman punishment," he said.
"The moment the investigation began, so did a massive, malicious and defamatory campaign of leaks. My client's blood spilled in the streets. They forgot that she was a mother and a wife. This was an unprecedented process of demonization that no reasonable person could endure. This lady is made of special steel."

The prime minister also faces indictments on corruption charges for breach of trust, fraud and bribery in three separate investigations.
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