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Thursday, 27 January 2011

France's Rolex-wearing "Ferrari priest" is a free man

Antoine Videau was a bad man; a very, very bad man. But he won't be returning to prison.

Antoine Videau (screenshot from video on Corse Matin report)

As the regional daily Corse Matin reports, the 64-year-old, who was convicted last year of embezzlement, had his sentence reduced on Wednesday by an appeals court and is now effectively a "free man".

In place of the original three years with one year suspended, the man who has been variously dubbed the "Ferrari priest" or the "Rolex priest" in the French media has now been given two years with 16 months suspended.

As he has already served eight months, he will not be returning behind bars.

But the court also ruled that he still had to pay €1.3 million in compensation and put him on probation for three years.

For over 20 years the former priest on the island of Corsica had embezzled more than two million euros and, as the national daily France Soir writes, obviously believed that, "Charity begins with oneself."

Videau had been responsible for managing church property, and when he appeared in court last year, it became evident of just how well he had been doing his job - for his own benefit.

He had cashed in cheques from parishioners, pocketed revenue from a convent on the island which had been converted into a Chambre d'hôtes (bed and breakfast) and diverted funds from the will of an archbishop who died in 1998 and for whom he was the executor into the 28 bank accounts he held on the island nicknamed the Île de Beauté and the Côte d’Azur.

As well as proudly wearing a Rolex, he wasn't averse to turning up at Mass driving a (different) sports car and perhaps most famously organised a "cultural trip" to Las Vegas.

Speaking after Wednesday's ruling Videau's lawyer said the gap between the two decisions had given the courts time to "take measure more accurately the allegations made against his client."

"After the commotion that accompanied the original trial, this hearing was much calmer," Jean-Michel Marriagi told reporters.

"But the civil claims (for compensation) are excessive and don't respect certain rules so there will most certainly be an appeal in the court of cassation."


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Who says the Church and all that work for the Chuch have to be poor? Just think a few centuries back at all the money, land, jewelery that the Catholic Church possessed and still possesses today?

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