MANHATTAN (CN) – Italian businessman Raffaello Follieri was sentenced Thursday to 4½ years in federal prison for conspiracy, wire fraud and money laundering. Follieri, CEO of the Follieri Group in Manhattan, reaped more than $2 million by claiming he had cut a deal with the Vatican to buy Church properties on the cheap for resale. Even after the Vatican’s Secretary of State told him to knock it off, in 2006, Follieri continued his scam, telling investors he was the Vatican’s CFO.
The sentencing judge also ordered Follieri to forfeit $2.4 million, 15 watches and other jewelry and “precious metals.”
Prosecutors said Follieri, 30, spent his victims’ money on yachts, a “luxury apartment in Manhattan,” wine, vacations, and other fripperies. He spent $18,200 to settle a lawsuit with his ex-girlfriend over expenses from one of their vacations. Follieri has been in jail since he was arrested in June.