Ex-Israeli Premier Olmert sentenced to 8 months in prison

Israeli Court Sentences Olmert to 8 Months

JERUSALEM (AP) — Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was sentenced Monday to eight months in prison for unlawfully accepting money from a U.S. supporter, capping the dramatic downfall of a man who only years earlier led the country and hoped to bring about a historic peace agreement with the Palestinians.

Olmert was convicted in March in a retrial in Jerusalem District Court. The sentencing comes in addition to a six-year prison sentence he received last year in a separate bribery conviction, ensuring the end of the former premier's political career.

Olmert's lawyer, Eyal Rozovsky, said Olmert's legal team was "very disappointed" by the ruling and would appeal to Israel's Supreme Court. They were granted a 45-day stay, meaning the former Israeli leader will avoid incarceration for now.

Olmert also was given a suspended sentence of an additional eight months and fined $25,000.

13 PHOTOS
Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
See Gallery
Ex-Israeli Premier Olmert sentenced to 8 months in prison
Former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert (L) speaks with Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman before US Secretary of State John Kerry delivers the keynote address at the 10th Anniversary Saban Forum, Power Shifts: US-Israel Relations in a Dynamic Middle East, in Washington on December 7, 2013. AFP PHOTO/Nicholas KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (R) leaves Tel Aviv's district court after a hearing in his trial for corruption linked to a major property development on May 13, 2014. Olmert, 68, who was convicted on March 31, 2014 on two charges of taking bribes was sentenced to six years in prison and a fine of a million shekels ($290,000/210,000 euros) over his involvement in one of the country's worst-ever corruption scandals. AFP PHOTO / POOL / JACK GUEZ (Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (C) leaves Tel Aviv's district court after a hearing in his trial for corruption linked to a major property development on May 13, 2014. Olmert, 68, who was convicted on March 31, 2014 on two charges of taking bribes was sentenced to six years in prison and a fine of a million shekels ($290,000/210,000 euros) over his involvement in one of the country's worst-ever corruption scandals. AFP PHOTO / POOL / JACK GUEZ (Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (L) arrives for his trial for corruption linked to a major property development on May 13, 2014 at the district court of the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv. Olmert, 68, who was convicted on March 31, 2014 on two charges of taking bribes was sentenced to six years in prison and a fine of a million shekels ($290,000/210,000 euros) over his involvement in one of the country's worst-ever corruption scandals. AFP PHOTO / POOL / JACK GUEZ (Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert waits before the start of a hearing in his trial for corruption linked to a major property development on March 31, 2014 at Tel Aviv District Court. The court found Olmert guilty of bribery linked to the construction of the massive Holyland residential complex when he served as the city's mayor, in one of the worst corruption scandals in Israeli history. AFP PHOTO / POOL / DAN BALILTY (Photo credit should read DAN BALILTY/AFP/Getty Images)
Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert arrives at Tel Aviv District Court for his trial for corruption linked to a major property development on March 31, 2014. The court found Olmert guilty of bribery linked to the construction of the massive Holyland residential complex when he served as the city's mayor, in one of the worst corruption scandals in Israeli history. AFP PHOTO / POOL / OLIVER WEIKEN (Photo credit should read OLIVER WEIKEN/AFP/Getty Images)
Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert speaks at the McCain Institute for International Leadership in Washington, DC, June 5, 2013. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Israel's outgoing premier Ehud Olmert (R) speaks to prime-minister designate Benjamin Netanyahu before the start of the swearing-in of the latter's new coalition government in the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem on March 31, 2009. Netanyahu said he was willing to talk peace with the Palestinians as he presented his cabinet for parliamentary approval amid international concern Israel's new government could bury the negotiations. AFP PHOTO/POOL/YOSSI ZAMIR -- ISRAEL OUT -- (Photo credit should read YOSSI ZAMIR/AFP/Getty Images)
JERUSALEM - MARCH 31: Outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert sums up the achievements of his government during the swearing-in session of incoming premier Benjamin Netanyahu's new coalition in the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, on March 31, 2009 in Jerusalem, Israel. Olmert faces prosecution on charges of corruption after leaving office. (Photo by David Silverman/Getty Images)
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL - MARCH 3: (ISRAEL OUT) In this handout from the Israeli GPO, U.S Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) meets with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert at the prime minister's residence on March 3, 2009 in Jeruslaem, Israel. Hillary Clinton is at the start of a two-day visit to the region where she held talks with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Prime Minister Designate Binyamin Netanyahu before meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmood Abbas. (Photo by GPO via Getty Images)
JERUSALEM - MARCH 31: Outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (R) talks with his outgoing Finance Minister Roni Bar-On during the swearing-in session of incoming premier Benjamin Netanyahu's new coalition in the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, on March 31, 2009 in Jerusalem. Olmert faces prosecution on charges of corruption after leaving office. (Photo by David Silverman/Getty Images)
Former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert comes out of a sentence hearing in his corruption case at Jerusalem's District Court on September 24, 2012. A Jerusalem court handed Olmert a $19,000 fine and a suspended jail sentence for graft, meaning he will serve no jail time, Israeli media reported. AFP PHOTO/GALI TIBBON (Photo credit should read GALI TIBBON/AFP/GettyImages)
Surrounded by security, former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert is greeted by an unidentified man as he leaves the Jerusalem district court following his arraignment on July 10, 2012. An Israeli court acquitted Olmert on two key corruption charges and found him guilty on a lesser charge, media reported. AFP PHOTO/AHMAD GHARABLI (Photo credit should read AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/GettyImages)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE


A slew of character witnesses had vouched for Olmert, including former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and former Israeli Mossad chief Meir Dagan in written statements read aloud Monday. The verdict stated that it recognized Olmert's vast contributions to Israeli society and sentenced him to less than the prosecution had demanded. Still, it ruled that "a black flag hovers over his conduct."

Olmert was forced to resign in early 2009 amid the corruption allegations. His departure cleared the way for hard-liner Benjamin Netanyahu's election, and subsequent peace efforts have not succeeded.

Olmert, 69, was acquitted in 2012 of a series of charges that included accepting cash-stuffed envelopes from U.S. businessman Morris Talansky when Olmert was mayor of Jerusalem and a Cabinet minister. Olmert was found to have received about $600,000 from Talansky during his term as mayor, and additional amounts in cash during his term as a Cabinet minister, but a court did not find evidence the money had been used for unlawful personal reasons or illegal campaign financing.

Talansky, an Orthodox Jew from New York's Long Island, had testified the money was spent on expensive cigars, first-class travel and luxury hotels, while insisting he received nothing in return.

The acquittal on the most serious charges at the time was seen as a major victory for Olmert, who denied being corrupt. He was convicted only on a lesser charge of breach of trust for steering job appointments and contracts to clients of a business partner, and it raised hopes for his political comeback.

But Olmert's former office manager and confidant Shula Zaken later became a state's witness, offering diary entries and tape recordings of conversations with Olmert about illicitly receiving cash, leading to a retrial. In the recordings, Olmert is heard telling Zaken not to testify in the first trial so she would not incriminate him.

The judges concluded that Olmert gave Zaken part of the money in exchange for her loyalty, and used the money for his own personal use without reporting it according to law. They convicted him on a serious charge of illicitly receiving money, as well as charges of fraud and breach of trust.

In a separate trial in March 2014, Olmert was convicted of bribery over a Jerusalem real estate scandal and was sentenced to six years in prison. He appealed and has been allowed to stay out of prison until a verdict is delivered.

At the time Olmert resigned as prime minister, Israel and the Palestinians had been engaged in more than a year of intense negotiations over the terms of Palestinian independence. The Palestinians seek all of the West Bank and east Jerusalem, in addition to the Gaza Strip, for an independent state. Israel occupied all three areas in the 1967 Mideast war, though it withdrew from Gaza in 2005.

Since leaving office, Olmert has said he presented the Palestinians the most generous Israeli proposal in history, offering roughly 95 percent of the West Bank, along with a land swap covering the remaining 5 percent of territory. In addition, he proposed international administration in east Jerusalem, home to the city's most sensitive religious sites.

Palestinian officials have said that while progress was made, Olmert's assessment was overly optimistic.

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.