Film Producer Cecchi Gori Sentenced to Seven-Year Jail Term

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Vittorio Cecchi Gori

The force behind three Oscar-winning Italian movies has faced mounting legal and financial problems in recent years.

ROME – Vittorio Cecchi Gori, the Oscar-winning producer whose film credits include Il Postino and Life Is Beautiful, was sentenced Tuesday to seven years behind bars for his role in the $800 million collapse of Finmavi, his family's holding company.

Cecchi Gori was at one time one of the most powerful producers in Europe, with nearly 200 production credits including Michael Radford's Il Postino, Roberto Benigni's Life Is Beautiful (La vita e' bella), along with Mediterraneo from Gabriele Salvatores -- all Oscar winners.

But he has not made a film in five years -- since Federico Moccia's Sorry, If I Love You (Scusami ma ti chiamo amore) -- as his pace of work slowed amid mounting legal problems (Cecchi Gori had a production credit on Kirk Jones' Everybody's Fine from 2009, but only because it was a remake of a 1990 Italian film he co-produced).

In February, Cecchi Gori was sentenced to six years in jail and fined $15.5 million (€11.5 million) in connection with the illegal bankruptcy claim of Safin Cinematografica. That verdict is under appeal. And in April, prosecutors asked for 10 years in prison for the Finmavi case, a sentence judges reduced to seven years Tuesday.

In this case, Cecchi Gori and former lieutenant Luigi Barone were charged with illegally siphoning off Finmavi assets for personal projects and investments, and to bankroll lavish personal expenses.

In addition to his legal issues, he's been forced to sell off most of his assets in recent years, including the expansive Cecchi Gori film archive and the Cinema Adriano in Rome, reported to be Italy's busiest cinema.

Along the way, Cecchi Gori has announced several comebacks, but none have managed to gain traction.

Twitter: @EricjLyman