More than two years after conceding defeat to Emmanuel Macron during the preliminary rounds of France’s last presidential vote, which saw Macron emerge victorious at the head of his reformist "En Marche" movement, which quickly fizzled as the French people turned on the country’s youngest leader since Napoleon, former French PM Francois Fillon has been sentenced to five years (with three suspended) for doling out 'fake' government jobs to his wife and children.
News of the investigation first emerged during the early months of the campaign, and quickly cost Fillon his status as frontrunner in the national polls. In March, Fillon defiantly vowed to stay in the race despite facing criminal charges. Now that the sensitive case has meandered through the French justice system, Fillon - a conservative, and once one of the most powerful men in the country - will spend a full two years behind bars (though he’ll likely be released early on good behavior). His wife Penelope was also convicted, and handed a 3-year suspended sentence. Both will pay heavy fines that together equal roughly 3/4ths of the money the family received from the "fake job" wages.
According to Sputnik, the charges stem from an investigation by French satirical weekly Le Canard enchaine, which claimed in early 2017 that Penelope Fillon had been employed as her husband’s parliamentary assistant between 1988-1990, 1998-2002, 2012-13, then was later employed by Marc Joulaud from 2002 to 2007. Joulaud also faced charges and a fine in connection with the case.
Two of Fillon’s children, Charles and Marie Fillon, were allegedly employed from 2005 to 2007 as assistants to their father, then a French senator in Paris.
Though Fillon and his wife have insisted that all the work was legal, prosecutors and reporters claimed that the jobs were "fake" - ie that Penelope and the kids were paid essentially for doing no actual work. Apparently, a jury was convinced enough to agree.
Fillon and his wife said they will be appealing the charges.
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