Raffaello Follieri always looked the part of the Italian aristocrat. Impeccably dressed and permanently tanned—like a more attractive version of Zach Braff—he arrived in New York as a dashing young business tycoon with inside connections to the Vatican and a plan to use those connections to make millions. In short order he landed stunning actress Anne Hathaway as a girlfriend and drew attention from some of the most powerful financial figures in America. His father was Pasquale Follieri, an Italian businessman and his son's partner in the Follieri Group, an shady concern that promised investors big returns from real estate dealings with the Catholic Church. But that's not all that Pasquale was; just two years after he helped establish his son in New York, he would be a convicted financial criminal, in an eerie foreshadowing of Raffaello's own fate:
The father Pasquale is already under trial, accused of having illegally appropriated almost a half a billion lire when he was the judicial administrator of a private company in a tourist development. The trial finished in April 2005 with the Pasquale being sentenced to three years in prison and blocked forever from serving in public office.
The father and son team of Catholic property sharks caught the attention of the media, and the younger Follieri's world began to unravel. Today's charges may be the first step towards following his father into prison.
The main beneficiary of this whole mess: former Gawker writer Josh Stein, who has a big story coming up in Page Six Magazine about Follieri. He's been working on it for a while, and he couldn't have timed it better.