Silvio Berlusconi, the former prime minister of Italy, has been sentenced to four years in prison on conviction of tax fraud; just two days after he said will not seek higher political office.
This particular case -- which has been winding through the courts for six years -- involved allegations that Berlusconi and fellow defendants conspired to buy the rights to broadcast thousands of American films on private television networks in Italy through the contrivance of offshore firms and avoided tax payments in connection with the scheme.
Prosecutors also alleged that the defendants artificially increased the price for the television rights by re-licensing them to Berlusconi’s private networks.
Berlusconi is no stranger to criminal charges and courts -- in prior (and ongoing cases, including an allegation he paid for sex with an underage prostitute), he denied wrongdoing and always claimed cases against him were motivated by political considerations. Thus far, he has either been cleared of charges or the trials dragged on so long, the statute of limitations kicked in, getting him off the hook.
In fact, the statute of limitations in the TV case is set to expire next year.
Berlusconi, 76, is expected to file an appeal against the conviction. Under Italian law, a case must move through two levels of appeals before a verdict can be finalized.