A Fall From Grace: Follieri's Guilty Plea
Raffaello Follieri, the Italian entrepreneur who worked his way into the inner circles of the very wealthy, pleaded guilty this week in federal court in Manhattan to conspiracy, money laundering and fraud.
In the five years he had lived in New York since moving from Italy, Follieri, 30, had parlayed what he said were his close ties to the Vatican, drawing investors into his plan to buy property from the Catholic Church. He had dated actress Anne Hathaway and associated with a close aide to Bill Clinton and Clinton friend, Los Angeles billionaire Ron Burkle. Burkle's Yucaipa investments put at least $55 million into the Follieri Group, the Post's David Segal reports.
Follieri appeared in court in his blue prison uniform and admitted that he had been taking money from investors to pay for his personal expenses, according to the Wall Street Journal. "I did not have investor authorization to use the money that way," he said in court. "I knew what I was doing was wrong."
Follieri has been in federal prison since his June arrest.
As Michael Shnayerson writes in Vanity Fair, "It was a shocking comedown for the charismatic entrepreneur who'd whisked his actress girlfriend around the world on chartered jets and yachts..."
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