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Sara Netanyahu Cuts Plea Deal in Catering Case

Category: Middle East,World

JERUSALEM — Sara Netanyahu, the wife of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, accepted a plea bargain on Wednesday morning and will pay about $15,000 in fines and restitution to settle accusations that she misused about $100,000 in public funds in managing the couple’s official residence.

Prosecutors said that Ms. Netanyahu, whom they charged with fraud, had concealed that a cook was on the payroll so that she could order hundreds of catered meals from expensive restaurants and charge them to the state.

Under the deal with the State Attorney’s Office the amount of public money at issue was halved to about $50,000, and Ms. Netanyahu agreed to plead guilty to a lesser charge of trickery, specifically that she deliberately exploited another person’s mistake. She is due to pay about $2,800 in fines and $12,500 in restitution.

Ms. Netanyahu, 60, was indicted on charges of fraud and breach of trust a year ago in the case, which covered the years 2010 to 2013. Prosecutors accused her of “exploiting her status as the wife of the prime minister” and colluding with a top aide in a “planned, ongoing and systematic” scheme to break government rules and conceal it from state accountants.

The agreement, which was to be formalized in the Jerusalem magistrate’s court later on Wednesday, puts an end to one case that has embarrassed the Netanyahu family for years, slightly easing the baggage the prime minister carries as he once again runs for re-election, in September.

But Mr. Netanyahu faces a far more serious criminal prosecution of his own, on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust over his ties to wealthy businessmen, and accusations that he traded official favors for gifts and positive news coverage. He is widely expected to be indicted subject to a hearing now set for Oct. 2, though he is expected to ask Israel’s Supreme Court for an extension.

Ms. Netanyahu herself still also faces a lawsuit by a former housecleaner. The woman, Shira Raban, worked at the prime minister’s residence for a month in 2017 and said that Ms. Netanyahu mistreated her and insulted her constantly. She is seeking about $63,000 in damages. In court on Tuesday, Ms. Netanyahu’s lawyer accused Ms. Raban of lying for money.

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