Italian who dated Anne Hathaway gets 4 1/2 years

Thu Oct 23, 2008 6:59pm EDT
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By Christine Kearney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - An Italian businessman who dated Hollywood actress Anne Hathaway, made a deal with supermarket mogul Ron Burkle and exaggerated ties to the Vatican, was sentenced on Thursday to 4 1/2 years in prison for fraud.

Raffaello Follieri, 30, pleaded guilty in September to fraudulently obtaining $2.4 million by leading investors to believe he had Vatican connections that enabled him to buy the Roman Catholic Church's unwanted U.S. properties at a discount.

Hathaway, who starred in "The Devil Wears Prada," broke her silence last month, telling W magazine she felt like "a rug was pulled out from under me" when Follieri was arrested in June.

"I have dishonored my family name and embarrassed the church I love," Follieri told Judge John Koeltl in U.S. District Court in Manhattan in a statement in Italian that was translated into English. "I will never be able to wash away the stain.

"I hope that someday those hurt by my actions will forgive me," Follieri said before the judge handed down the sentence.

Koeltl sentenced Follieri to 4 years and 6 months in prison and ordered three years of supervision after his release. He will be deported to Italy once he completes his sentence.

Follieri, dressed in a dark blue prison uniform, looked up at the courtroom ceiling and then briefly lowered his head, rubbing his face with his left hand.


<p>Italian businessman Raffaello Follieri is seen in New York in this February 1, 2008 file photo. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/Files</p>