Italian Businessman Who Claimed Vatican Ties Is Sentenced to 54 Months in Prison

The sentencing punctuated a dramatic narrative that stretched back to Mr. Follieri’s arrest last summer and became fodder for gossip columnists and TV shows because of his associations with Ron Burkle, a friend of former President Bill Clinton, and the actress Anne Hathaway, whom he dated.

Prosecutors accused Mr. Follieri, the chairman and chief executive of the Follieri Group, of raising millions of dollars from investors by claiming that special connections with the Vatican allowed him to buy church properties at below-market prices and redevelop them for “socially responsible” purposes. In fact, Mr. Follieri had no special rights to buy properties but was simply competing against other bidders, prosecutors said.

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