Archive for the ‘Raffaelo Follieri’ Category

Anne Hathaway’s ex pleads guilty

Anne Hathaway & Raffaello Follieri

Anne Hathaway’s ex Raffaello Follieri plead guilty today to one count of conspiring to commit wire fraud, eight counts of wire fraud, and five counts of money laundering.

According to the United States Attorney of the Southern District of New York, Follieri, who dated Hathaway for several years, ran a fraudulent real estate investment scheme and frequently and falsely claimed that the Vatican had appointed him to be its Chief Financial Officer and that he met with the Pope when he visited Rome. But that in reality, his connections consisted of an administrative employee at the Vatican who he secretly paid with investor funds, authorities said.

The States Attorney goes on to say that, “based on these and other fraudulent representations, Follieri misappropriated over $2 million in investor money which he used to finance a lavish, jet-setting lifestyle.”

Due to his guilty plea, Follieri faces a maximum sentence of 265 years in prison.



Posted Wednesday, September 10th, 2008 at 2:14pm
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Raffaello Follieri is working on a plea deal

Raffaello Follieri

Raffaello Follieri, the 30-year-old Italian entrepreneur who has attracted attention for business dealings with billionaire Ron Burkle, is near an agreement to plead guilty to fraud and money-laundering charges in his federal criminal case, according to people familiar with the matter.

Mr. Follieri was charged in June with paying for a lavish lifestyle with money from a real-estate venture with Mr. Burkle’s Yucaipa Cos. The venture was supposed to capitalize on Mr. Follieri’s Vatican ties to redevelop surplus Catholic Church properties. Currently in custody in New York in lieu of a $21 million bail, he could face roughly four to five years in prison under the proposed plea agreement, says a person familiar with the matter.

A court hearing on his case could take place as early as Tuesday. In a recent court filing, prosecutors said plea negotiations were being conducted in connection with the 12-count criminal complaint filed in June that charges Mr. Follieri with fraud in his business venture with Mr. Burkle.

Mr. Follieri is weighing whether to enter a guilty plea, say people familiar with the matter. There remains a possibility Mr. Follieri could decide to go to trial.

A plea agreement would climax an improbable business saga. Arriving in the U.S. as a little-known but charming twenty-something in 2003, Mr. Follieri became friendly with Douglas Band, the top aide to former President Bill Clinton. That helped Mr. Follieri navigate into the upper reaches of Mr. Clinton’s world, and meet Mr. Burkle. He persuaded Mr. Burkle to form a venture to purchase real estate from the Catholic Church in the U.S.

Soon, he was flying on private jets, vacationing on Mediterranean yachts and sharing a $37,000-a-month Manhattan penthouse with his then-girlfriend, actress Anne Hathaway. He hosted John McCain, now the Republican presidential nominee, on a rented yacht off the coast of Montenegro and looked at possible business deals with a consulting firm partly owned by a top McCain presidential-campaign adviser.

Mr. Follieri’s tale began to unravel last year when Mr. Burkle’s Yucaipa investment operation filed a lawsuit in Delaware state court that accused the Italian of misappropriating more than $1.3 million from their real-estate venture to finance personal expenses, such as private jets and a Manhattan penthouse.

Mr. Follieri eventually settled the suit with Mr. Burkle. In a seemingly remarkable recovery, Mr. Follieri earlier this year found a new investor to reinvigorate his business operation. Federal agents arrested him June 24 and filed criminal charges that, in many respects, resembled those in the civil suit he had settled with Mr. Burkle.

Actress Anne Hathaway, left, with former boyfriend Raffaello Follieri, who is said to be near a deal to plead guilty to fraud and money-laundering charges.

Mr. Follieri’s move toward a guilty plea comes despite some potential problems with the government’s case. While prosecutors contend that Mr. Follieri overstated his Vatican ties to attract investors to his church real-estate deals, he did have some high-level connections in Rome. Last year, a Clinton spokesman said at least two senior Catholic Church figures had spoken up for Mr. Follieri, including Cardinal Angelo Sodano, who, as Vatican secretary of state, effectively ran church operations before retiring last year. Cardinal Sodano couldn’t immediately be reached. He has in the past declined to comment.

Mr. Follieri’s Vatican ties also allegedly involved money. The federal criminal complaint says between 2005 and 2006, Mr. Follieri sent more than $385,000 of allegedly stolen funds to unnamed Vatican recipients “in order to increase his ties” there.

Another odd aspect to the case: the alleged principal victim, Mr. Burkle, had patched things up with Mr. Follieri. Before Mr. Follieri’s arrest, the two men had socialized and examined at least one possible business deal, which didn’t come to fruition, say people familiar with the matter. While Mr. Burkle’s Yucaipa operation sued Mr. Follieri for allegedly misusing the venture’s money, Yucaipa officials never maintained that they were deceived by his Vatican claims. The venture bought some $50 million of properties and Yucaipa officials have consistently said they are satisfied with the portfolio.

Mr. Burkle’s firm was contacted by federal officials looking for information about Mr. Follieri. At one point, Mr. Burkle told Mr. Follieri to be sure that his financial affairs, such as tax matters, were in order, says a person say familiar with the matter. Mr. Follieri was concerned enough that he consulted attorneys, says Melanie A. Bonvicino, a New York publicist and longtime Follieri friend. Ms. Bonvicino has been trying to help him and has visited him in prison.



Posted Tuesday, September 9th, 2008 at 10:10am
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Anne Hathaway will continue campaigning after her breakup

Anne Hathaway

Anne Hathaway is determined not to let her recent break-up with Raffaelo Follieri interfere with her campaign for presidential candidate Barack Obama.

The Get Smart star split from the Italian businessman in June, shortly before he was arrested on suspicion of unscrupulous business dealings. But, speaking at last week’s Democratic National Convention in Colorado, Hathaway insists she won’t allow the split to keep her from supporting Obama’s bid to take the White House.

She tells the New York Daily News, “My life didn’t begin when my relationship (with Raffaello) began. I come from a middle-class Democratic family. I’ve had strong ties with the Clintons since they were elected. The most important thing for me is getting a Democrat in the White House. I keep thinking about Michelle Obama’s speech… about our hopes and fears and not being afraid anymore.”



Posted Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008 at 11:11am
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Anne Hathaway is stronger after her split with Raffaelo Follieri

Anne Hathaway

Anne Hathaway confesses her split from Italian Raffaello Follieri was for the best – because it has made her a stronger person.

The Devil Wears Prada star ended her relationship with Follieri in June, shortly before he was arrested on suspicion of unscrupulous business dealings.

And Hathaway has no regrets about her decision.

She says, “The worst thing that happens to you can be the best thing for you, if you don’t let it get the best of you.”
And the star still hopes to marry one day.

She adds, “I’ve always wanted a family. I’m not one of those people who says ‘What’s the point of marriage?’ (I’d like to) find someone you can be yourself around, who makes you laugh, who challenges you in a good way, and where you just speak off each other. My parents have been married more than 25 years, with all the glory and all the pain you can imagine, but they’ve stayed together. I want a strong marriage like that.”

Follieri has been charged with a dozen counts of federal wire fraud conspiracy and money laundering and will remain in jail until he can post $21 million bail.



Posted Sunday, August 10th, 2008 at 6:18pm
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