Raffaello Follieri Nears Guilty Plea In Burkle-Related Money Laundering, Fraud

10/10/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • John R. Emshwiller Wall Street Journal

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.

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