Silvio Berlusconi Asks for Community Service After Tax Fraud Conviction

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Silvio Berlusconi

The 77-year-old billionaire media tycoon could end up working in a soup kitchen or assisting recovering drug addicts.

ROME – Ten weeks after his first-ever definitive conviction, in a $400 million tax fraud and false accounting case, Silvio Berlusconi's main punishment may boil down to serving food in a soup kitchen or assisting elderly invalids.

Berlusconi, Italy's three-time prime minister and billionaire media tycoon, applied Friday to perform a year of community service in lieu of house arrest. It is not clear what kind of community service he applied for, but in Italy it usually means working for a nonprofit group helping the poor, elderly, disabled or recovering addicts.

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The fact that the 77-year-old Berlusconi applied for community service does not mean the request will be granted. The courts could still require he serve a year of house arrest in one of his sprawling mansions or villas.

On Aug. 1, the Supreme Court upheld a lower court's conviction in the tax fraud and false accounting case that involved content deals for his Mediaset television and cinema giant. But it reduced the four-year jail term to a year with an option of either house arrest or community service, due to his advanced age.

The Supreme Court also asked the lower court to reconsider its five-year ban on politics -- experts say it's likely to be shortened but not eliminated -- and a week ago parliament voted to strip Berlusconi of his Senate seat. He also has ongoing appeals in two more cases, one for illegal wiretaps and another for abuse of power and paying an underage girl for sex. Berlusconi has maintained his innocence in all the cases, claiming they are politically motivated.

If the request for community service is granted, Berlusconi will likely start next year, news reports said.

Twitter: @EricJLyman