Former Mayor of Nice Gets Two-Year Jail Term
PARIS (AP) _ A former mayor of Nice was convicted of embezzlement Tuesday, sentenced to two years in jail and fined $40,000.
Jacques Medecin, 67, also was barred from voting or holding office for five years. He remains charged with bribery in another case and will be tried in June.
Once one of the most popular political leaders on the Riviera, Medecin fled to Uruguay in 1990 to escape charges of corruption and fraud during his 25 years as mayor. He was extradited to France last year after a year in a Uruguayan jail.
Lucien Salles, former director of Nice-Opera, an association that manages the funds of the Nice Opera, also was convicted Tuesday. He was sentenced to a year in jail and fined $25,000 for his role in diverting an estimated $3 million to Medecin’s personal bank account in Los Angeles.
Nice-Opera was created in 1982 and received yearly subsidies of about $10 million from the city government.
The embezzlement was discovered in 1989 during a tax audit.
Medecin has maintained he is innocent and was targeted by political rivals. An attorney said Medecin would appeal the sentence.
Jean-Marc Varaut, one of Medecin’s lawyers, said he would ask that his client be freed since he has spent 18 months in prison.
``He has served all of his sentence in the Nice-Opera affair,″ Varaut said. ``He can expect a presidential pardon reducing his term by two months and three more for good behavior, so he’s a free man.″
The attorney referred to the French tradition of a new president pardoning scofflaws and prisoners serving out the last few months of their terms. Jacques Chirac will be sworn in as president Wednesday.