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Wife of Israeli prime minister to be charged with fraud, attorney general says

By Ed Adamczyk
Wife of Israeli prime minister to be charged with fraud, attorney general says
Melania Trump, R, wife of President Donald Trump, and and Sara Netanyahu C, wife of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, talk to children during a visit to Hadassa hospital in Jerusalem on May 22. Sara Netanyahu was informed on Friday she will be charged with fraud in a scandal involving alleged illegal payments to caterers serving meals at the prime minister's residence. . Photo by Sebastian Scheiner/UPI | License Photo

Sept. 8 (UPI) -- Israel's attorney general notified the wife of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday that she is likely to be indicted on fraud charges.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit notified Sara Netanyahu that he intends to charge her with fraud. Mandelblit has been investigating four criminal charges against Sara Neyanyahu. One charge leading to the expected indictment involves the alleged misuse of about $102,000 in state funds to pay for catered meals at the prime minister's official residence and for chefs -- both of which are not allowed to be funded from state coffers.

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Mandelblit said he would make a decision on whether or not to proceed with the fraud charge, known as "The Prepared Food Affair," after a pre-trial hearing.

Mandelblit also named the former director general of the prime minister's residence, Ezra Saidoff, as a defendant in the case.

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Mandelblit added Friday that his office will not pursue three other cases against Sara Netanyahu. "The Waiter's Affair" involves alleged falsehoods on invoices regarding the wages and workloads of waiters temporarily employed at the residence.

"The electrician affair" involves a conflict of interest in reportedly employing an electrician at the residence and "Father's Homecare Affair" allegedly concerned Sara Netanyahu employing two health care workers for her ailing father, although one was additionally paid for cleaning services.

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The scandal has alarmed Israelis for months. The residence's former manager, Meni Naftali, is expected to testify at the pre-trial hearing on behalf of the state. Naftali has been active in encouraging the government to indict Sara Netanyahu.

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A statement issued Thursday on behalf of the Netanyahu family said in part, "The allegations against the wife of the prime minister are absurd and will be proved to be unfounded. Sara Netanyahu is a strong and honorable woman and there has never been any fault in her actions. The steep increases in the prime minister residence's expenditure result from transfers carried out by problematic house manager Meni Naftali - state witness, criminal and serial liar. Not only did the prime minister's wife not commit any offense, but the preoccupation with the food of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who works around the clock for the state and its security, and with the food of his family, is a pathetic and obsessive one. For how much longer will this obsessive involvement with the Netanyahu family continue?"

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