Former Israeli PM Ehud Olmert released from prison

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was freed from prison Sunday after serving 16 months on corruption charges, authorities said.

Olmert was imprisoned for taking cash from an American businessman and also getting bribes related to a controversial Jerusalem housing project while he was mayor.

He was mayor of Jerusalem from 1993 to 2003, and took over as prime minister in 2006 after a stroke incapacitated Ariel Sharon.

Two years later, he resigned amid a corruption scandal, and was charged and imprisoned last year.

Israeli Prison Service spokesman Assaf Librati confirmed his release.

Cash-filled envelopes

American businessman Morris Talansky told prosecutors that he donated or loaned thousands of dollars to Olmert for political reasons, but he appeared to pay for luxury expenses instead.

"I only know that he loved expensive cigars. I know he loved pens, watches. I found it strange," Talansky testified in 2009. He said he gave Olmert $150,000 in loans and direct payments over 14 or 15 years.

During the trial in 2015, the businessman described how he would go to hotels and hand over envelopes stuffed with cash to Olmert.

He said he once paid for Olmert's $4,700 hotel bill at the Ritz-Carlton in Washington.

In another instance, the businessman gave him a $15,000 loan and asked him to return the money as soon as possible.

"Famous last words," Talansky said, explaining that he hadn't been repaid.

Holyland case

Olmert was also sentenced on the bribery case known as the Holyland case.

In March 2014, Olmert was convicted of receiving about $161,000 in bribes related to the housing project.

Olmert was one of 16 suspects charged in the Holyland corruption case, which involved developers who allegedly paid bribes to senior Jerusalem municipal officials in exchange for expedited approval of permits for the construction project.

This BBSNews article was syndicated from News | WPLG, and written by News | WPLG. Read the original article here.