The wife of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was charged with fraud and breach of trust Thursday, CNN reports. The charges stem from alleged misuse of state funds at the couple’s official residence.
Prosecutors say Sara Netanyahu used state money to pay for $100,000 worth of meals at the prime minister’s residence, according to an indictment filed in Jerusalem’s magistrate’s court on Thursday in a case known as the “Meals Ordering Affair,”
Sara Netanyahu also illegally paid approximately $10,000 for private chefs, prosecutors said.
Netanyahu faces a maximum sentence of eight years in prison.
Her lawyers lashed back against the indictment that they called “false and hallucinatory.”
“It’s the first time in Israel and in the world that the wife of a leader is put on trial for food entrees,” her legal team said in a statement. “There was no fraud, no breach of trust or any other felony. The food was not for the Netanyahu family, but for other people, including workers in the residence. We’re certain in the end that justice will speak. Truth and logic will prevail,” the statement continued.
The indictment doesn’t help the reputation the Netanyahus have fought against for years. Critics have said the two live an expensive lifestyle that puts them out of touch with the common Israeli citizen. Benjamin Netanyahu also faces several police investigations into alleged corruption, including accepting expensive gifts from billionaire friends. The Netanyahus have denied any wrongdoing.
Netanyahu’s political and diplomatic victories helped keep attention away from the looming investigations and allegations, the Chicago Tribune reports. In May, Netanyahu announced that the Mossad spy agency had stolen tens of thousands of sensitive nuclear documents from archenemy Iran. Thursday’s indictment showed that Netanyahu’s legal troubles are still there and may not go away anytime soon.
Gil Hoffman, chief political correspondent of the Jerusalem Post, said the indictment was a “devastating blow” to the prime minister. He described Sara as “the power behind the throne.”
The Washington Post recaps that the police accused the prime minister in two different cases of receiving gifts worth $280,000 from billionaires in exchange for political favors and trying to cut a deal with a newspaper publisher in return for favorable coverage. Even last week in another separate case, Netanyahu was questioned as a witness in Case 3000, also known as the “submarines affair,” a case looking into alleged corruption surrounding the purchase of naval vessels and submarines from a German shipbuilder.
While he hasn’t been identified as a suspect, the case accuses several of his top aides of having ties to the situation.
Netanyahu was also questioned in Case 4000, which alleges that he enacted policies that would financially benefit his friend Shaul Elovitch, the controlling shareholder of the telecommunications company Bezeq, in exchange for positive coverage on Elovitch’s Walla news site, The Washington Post reports.