A French court has sentenced former Prime Minister Francois Fillon to five years in jail, three of them suspended, for embezzling public funds in a scandal that wrecked his 2017 run for president.

The court also found Fillon’s wife, Penelope, guilty for her role in the scam.

It saw her receive about one million euros for minimal work as her husband’s parliamentary assistant.

She received a suspended three-year sentence.

In a scathing ruling on Monday (June 29), the chief judge said Fillon, who’s 66, had eroded public trust in the political class as a result of paying his wife a salary that was disproportionate to the work done.

The Fillon’s defence lawyer said they would be appealing against the verdict.

It means Fillon will avoid going to jail before the appeal is heard.

Fillon was prime minister under Nicolas Sarkozy from 2007 to 2012, and had been the frontrunner in the election race when the allegations surfaced.

Back then, Fillon denounced what he called a campaign of dirty tricks and denied having done anything illegal.

Though he did later admit an error of judgment.

But the court said the couple had failed to prove what work Penelope did and had amassed wealth as a result of the scam.

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