Oh, how the fake mighty have fallen. Raffaello Follieri, who just months ago was a high-flying "investment" operator with Ron Burkle's money and Anne Hathaway on his arm, "is near an agreement to plead guilty to fraud and money-laundering charges," according to the Wall Street Journal. Follieri hasn't previously admitted guilt, but the charges against him were fairly damning. Follieri would join his father as a convicted swindler. But his decision to settle (if he actually does) doesn't mean that he couldn't have constructed a defense for himself:

Mr. Follieri's move toward a guilty plea comes despite some potential problems with the government's case. While prosecutors contend that Mr. Follieri overstated his Vatican ties to attract investors to his church real-estate deals, he did have some high-level connections in Rome. Last year, a Clinton spokesman said at least two senior Catholic Church figures had spoken up for Mr. Follieri, including Cardinal Angelo Sodano, who, as Vatican secretary of state, effectively ran church operations before retiring last year.