Israeli PM's wife accepts plea deal in case of catered meals

Benjamin Netanyahu hugs his wife Sara

Benjamin Netanyahu hugs his wife Sara

"However, throughout the entire case, the prosecution said that its condition for closing the case would be a refund of the entire sum of money", Alef said, pointing out that the prime minister's wife would be returning only a small fraction of the funds that the state had initially charged her with taking illicitly.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's wife, Mrs Sara Netanyahu, signed a plea bargain on Wednesday (June 12) over allegedly misusing state funds to order gourmet meals, the State Attorney's Office said.

Last year, Mrs. Netanyahu, 60, was indicted on charges of fraud and breach of trust.

She suggested that the State Prosecutor's Office had recognized the "stigma" that the conviction of a prime minister's wife would carry and therefore sought to minimize the seriousness of the charges as much as possible. Wednesday's settlement saw her admit to a more minor charge of exploiting someone else's mistake and reduced the overspending at stake to $50,000.

Under the terms of the bargain, Mrs. Netanyahu agreed to pay $2,800 in fines and hand the remaining $12,500 back to the state.

Mrs. Netanyahu has long come under fire for extravagant spending and abusive behavior.

She has also faced accusations of mistreating staff, and in 2016 a court awarded some US$47,000 in damages to a former housekeeper who accused the couple of repeated workplace abuse.

On Sunday, Jerusalem's Magistrate's Court is expected to approve Sara Netanyahu's plea bargain, which will mark her with a criminal record, the Jerusalem Post reported. Former housekeeper Shira Raban is now suing Mrs. Netanyahu for $63,000 in damages over mistreatment and harassment, her lawyer said.

Sara Netanyahu's case is separate from her husband's legal troubles, which involve suspicions that he accepted illicit gifts, took bribes and tried to arrange favors for media barons in exchange for positive news coverage. He has pushed for a postponement, and can still request an extension from the Supreme Court. He vehemently denies wrongdoing, portraying himself as a victim of a media-orchestrated witch hunt aimed at ousting him.

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