Key Witness in Olmert Probe, Talansky, Acquitted of Long Island Assault Charges

American-Jewish businessman had been tried for attacking Dr. Leonard Barashick in 2007 tiff over dental work.

Jewish-American businessman Morris Talansky, they key witness in an ongoing corruption probe against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, was acquitted Tuesday on separate charges of assaulting a dentist in Long Island.

A Nassau County District Court judge ruled Tuesday that prosecutors had not proved that Talansky attacked Dr. Leonard Barashick in a 2007 dispute over dental work. Judge William O'Brien said during the ruling that he did not believe Barashick's testimony.

Following the acquittal, Talansky said he was "grateful to the Almighty and to my defense attorneys."

Last May, Talansky testified in Jerusalem that he gave Olmert $150,000, often in ash-stuffed envelopes, before Olmert became prime minister. Olmert denies any wrongdoing, but the probe spurred him to resign in September.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni took over as chairwoman of his Kadima party. Following her failure to assemble a coalition government, Livni called for general elections which were held on Tuesday, and which she won by a tight margin

U.S. authorities said last month they were prepared to offer partial immunity to Talansky. According to the offer, any prospective testimony given by him in an Israeli courtroom will not be used as direct evidence against him.

The testimony may be used in other instances, for example, as a lead to assist the Department of Justice in its investigation, to cross-examine Talansky should he be brought before an American court, and as rebuttal to any assertions made by Talansky or his attorneys.

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) decided last year to open a probe into Talansky's conduct, a move which came as no surprise to Israel's police investigators.

Senior police officials said it is customary for the FBI to become involved in Israeli investigations being conducted within the United States.