Published On: Wed, Jan 20th, 2021

Trump Pardons Sholam Weiss and Aviem Sella

President Trump issued more than 140 pardons on Tuesday.

Sholam Weiss (Wikipedia)

Sholam Weiss and Aviem Sella are just two of the people included in the more than 140 last minute pardons granted by President Donald Trump on Tuesday, his last full day in office. More are expected to be issued this morning in the lead up to Joe Biden’s inauguration as the 46th President of the United States at 12 noon Eastern Standard Time.

Aviem Sella and Sholam Weiss are very different people charged with very different crimes. Aviem Sella was the Israeli handler of American spy Jonathan Pollard. Sella, now 75, was indicted in 1986 for espionage in relation to the Pollard case. Sella was charged with personally recruiting Jonathan Pollard.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer, the U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and Miriam Adelson – Sheldon Adelson’s widow – all reportedly lobbied for Sella’s clemency. Jonathan Pollard was himself granted parole and released from prison in 2015 after spending 30 years in jail for treason. He was recently released from parole and allowed to immigrate to Israel.

“The State of Israel has issued a full and unequivocal apology, and has requested the pardon in order to close this unfortunate chapter in US-Israel relations,” the White House said in a statement explaining the clemency for Sella.

Aviem Sella was an Israeli air force pilot who later joined the Mosad. While in the air force he took part in Israel’s famed bombing of Iraq’s nuclear facility in 1981.

Sholam Weiss, on the other hand, was just your garden variety of white collar criminal. He was sentenced 20 years ago to a whopping 835-year’s in prison for setting up an insurance fraud scheme. That is a record breaking sentence. To compare, Bernie Madoff was only sentenced to 150 years in prison.

Weiss was convicted of racketeering and money laundering which brought down the National Heritage Life Insurance Co. in 1994. This bankrupted as many as 25,000 people. He was found guilty at trial on 93 different counts for skimming $400 million from the company. Weiss was also ordered to repay $125 million in customer losses and fined him $123 million.

Trump lawyers Alan Dershowitz and Jay Sekulow both lobbied for Weiss’ pardon.

Another person pardoned was Elliott Broidy, a Jewish former Republican fundraiser who pleaded guilty in 2020 to conspiring to violate foreign lobbying laws while working for Chinese and Malaysian interests. He failed to declare himself a representative for a foreign power as required by law. Broidy was a deputy finance chair for the Republican National Committee at the time. He admitted to leveraging the influence which Broidy had in the Trump administration to lobby on behalf of his clients.

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