Sara Netanyahu’s lawyer says the “demonization” of his client during the years-long saga was “unprecedented.”
By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News
Sara Netanyahu, wife of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, pleaded guilty Sunday at the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court to the reduced charges in her plea bargain in what is known as the “Prepared Foods Affair.”
Netanyahu and Ezra Saidoff, a former employee at the Prime Minister’s Residence, were charged with fraud and breach of trust for spending state funds on catered meals while there was a chef on staff. According to the judge’s ruling, Netanyahu took advantage of the mistake of accountants who were unaware of the chef’s position.
Instead of going to trial over allegations of fraud and breach of trust, Netanyahu will be convicted of the much lighter criminal offense of “deliberate exploitation of the mistake of others,” which is not legally considered fraud.
She will pay NIS 45,000 ((appr. $12,500) in return for catered meals that she ordered improperly on the state’s dime as well as a NIS 10,000 (roughly $2,777) fine.
“The verdict means that a person with access to public funds, no matter how high-ranking they are, cannot use them as if they were theirs,” prosecution attorney Jenny Avni stated.
State prosecutor Erez Padan said the deal involved major concessions on the part of the state but called it “balanced” overall.
“The plea bargain takes into account the considerable amount of time that has elapsed since the commission of the offenses attributed to the defendant, the circumstances of the offense, her age and clean record, as well as the personal and public costs that she paid during the investigation process,” he explained.
“It’s an unbearable punishment,” Yossi Cohen, Netanyahu’s attorney, said, comparing what the prime minister’s wife suffered from the media to an old American shaming practice.
“Tar was poured on her head and she was rolled in feathers,” he said. “From the moment the investigation opened, a huge, malicious, and defiant leaking campaign began. My client’s blood was spilled in the streets. They forgot that she was a mother and a wife. The process of demonization was unprecedented. No reasonable person would have borne it. This lady is made of special steel.”
Netanyahu herself said after the sentencing, “I’ve suffered enough,” to which Judge Avital Chen replied, “I’m sure.”
The prime minister also took the opportunity to write a lengthy post in Facebook, posted Sunday morning, that blastedg the media for their “venomous lies” about his wife while extolling her virtues, which he says they ignore in their quest to bring him and his party down.