Former Israeli Minister to Get 15 Months for Corruption After Striking Plea Deal

Stas Misezhnikov to plead guilty to breach of trust and pay 70,000 shekel fine, but drug and bribery charges are dropped

Revital Hovel
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Stas Misezhnikov in court in 2014.
Stas Misezhnikov in court in 2014.Credit: Nir Keidar
Revital Hovel

Former Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov will serve 15 months in prison for breach of trust as part of a plea bargain agreed with the State Prosecutor’s Office on Tuesday.

Charges of drug possession against Misezhnikov were dropped as part of the deal and he will also pay a 70,000 shekel ($20,000) fine. Charges of accepting bribes were also removed from the new indictment because of evidentiary difficulties.

The court still has to approve the agreement.

According to the amended indictment, Misezhnikov, of the Yisrael Beiteinu party, will admit that while serving as tourism minister, he allocated a budget of 1 million shekels to a student festival held in Eilat in 2010, while at the same time asking the organizers of the festival to employ his partner, Julia Roth.

The organizers, who wanted the support from the Tourism Ministry, employed Misezhnikov’s girlfriend and paid her tens of thousands of shekels.

The indictment states that Misezhnikov personally acted to ensure the festival took place with the ministry’s support, and demanded that the ministry’s director general update him regularly on the progress of approving the funding.

Misezhnikov did not reveal his relationship to Roth to ministry staff or that she was employed by the festival producers because of his recommendation, and that Roth was supposed to receive some of the money for producing the event.

Removed from the indictment were the charges that on a number of occasions, Misezhnikov – while on official government business in Israel and overseas – sent one of his advisers to buy cocaine for him.

He was also originally charged with using this cocaine at various events.

Misezhnikov denied the drugs charges, saying they were invented by the adviser who turned state’s evidence against him.

Misezhnikov is one of 11 people charged so far in what is known as the “Yisrael Beiteinu corruption affair.” 

His lawyer said Tuesday that Misezhnikov has taken full responsibility for his actions.

The crime was committed years ago when Misezhnikov first took office, his lawyer added, and this was a one-time mistake, his only one as a public servant.