Olmert sentenced to prison in Talansky case


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was sentenced to eight months in prison for accepting cash-filled envelopes from an American-Jewish businessman.

The sentence, announced Monday in the Jerusalem District Court, includes an additional eight months probation and a $26,000 fine and could be added to the six-year sentence Olmert is already facing for his role in the real estate scam known as the Holyland Affair.

The prison date in the Holyland Affair was suspended pending an appeal. The new jail term must begin in 45 days. Olmert’s attorneys announced their intention to appeal.

“The penalty imposed on Olmert only adds to the great suffering he has already incurred,” his defense team said in a statement following the sentencing. “This is a harsh sentence, and we intend to appeal against it.”

Monday’s ruling comes after Olmert’s second trial in the so-called Talansky Affair, in which he was accused of accepting envelopes filled with money from American Jewish businessman Morris “Moshe” Talansky and using it for personal — not political — expenses.

Olmert, who is the first Israeli prime minister to be sentenced to prison, did not testify during the retrial.

In 2012, the same court acquitted Olmert on charges of fraud, breach of trust, tax evasion and falsifying corporate records in the Talansky and Rishon Tours affairs. The latter case involved allegations that Olmert paid for family vacations by double billing Jewish organizations through the Rishon Tours travel agency.

Olmert was found guilty on a lesser charge of breach of trust in what was known as the Investment Center case, in which Olmert, as trade minister, granted personal favors to attorney Uri Messer.

In the Investment Center case, the charges were filed after Olmert became prime minister in 2006, but covered his time as mayor of Jerusalem and later as a government minister. Olmert officially resigned as prime minister in 2008 after police investigators recommended that he be indicted. He remained in power until national elections in February 2009, when Benjamin Netanyahu was elected.

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