October 20, 2008 / 9:00 PM / 10 years ago

U.S. government asks hefty sentence for Hathaway's ex-beau

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Prosecutors asked a federal judge on Monday to sentence an Italian businessman who was the longtime boyfriend of Hollywood actress Anne Hathaway to more than four years in prison for fraud.

Anne Hathaway (L), dressed in Marchesa and wearing jewellery by Harry Winston, and her boyfriend Raffaello Follieri arrive at the 80th annual Academy Awards, the Oscars, in Hollywood February 24, 2008. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Raffaello Follieri, 30, pleaded guilty in September to fraudulently obtaining more than $2 million by misleading investors to believe he had Vatican connections that enabled him to buy the Roman Catholic Church’s unwanted U.S. real estate properties at a discount.

In a memo filed Monday, U.S. prosecutors asked U.S. District Judge John Koeltl to sentence Follieri to between 51 and 63 months — what is recommended under federal guidelines as outlined in his plea deal. Follieri’s lawyer wants him to receive only three years.

“Follieri was motivated by greed. He used his considerable charm and skill to trick people into giving him their money,” prosecutors wrote in the memo, adding Follieri “shamelessly” told investors the Catholic Church was financially vulnerable due to sexual abuse lawsuits, and he lied about connections to the Vatican.

He is due to be sentenced on October 23. Koeltl could sentence him to more or less than what prosecutors and guidelines recommend.

Follieri, whose victims included California supermarket billionaire Ron Burkle, used the money from his scheme to pay for expensive clothes, meals and a $37,000-a-month Manhattan apartment, as well exotic vacations and private jets for friends and his girlfriend.

Last month Hathaway, who starred in “The Devil Wears Prada” and “Get Smart,” told W magazine that she felt like “a rug was pulled out from under me” when Follieri was arrested in June.

Reporting by Christine Kearney, editing by Michelle Nichols and Philip Barbara

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