Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was sentenced today to eight months in prison for unlawfully accepting money from a US 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 sentence 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 says Olmert's legal team will appeal to Israel's Supreme Court. They were granted a 45-day stay, meaning the former Israeli leader will avoid incarceration for now.
Olmert, 69, was acquitted in 2012 of a series of charges that included accepting cash-stuffed envelopes from US businessman Morris Talansky when Olmert was mayor of Jerusalem and a Cabinet minister. Though Olmert was found to have received more than $600,000 from Talansky, a court did not find evidence the money had been used unlawfully. 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. 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. He faced 5 years in prison; read more on the high-profile character witnesses who vouched for him here. (Read more Ehud Olmert stories.)