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Photographer gets 3-year prison term in L’Oreal heiress case

PARIS (AP) — A French court has handed a famed photographer a three-year prison sentence on charges of swindling millions of euros from France’s richest woman, L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, by taking advantage of her weak mental state.

The court also ordered the photographer, Francois-Marie Banier, to pay EUR159 million euros ($174 million) in damages and a 350,000-euro ($382,000) fine.

The court acquitted a former ally of former President Nicolas Sarkozy in the case.

In 2007, Bettencourt’s daughter accused the photographer of manipulating elderly widow Bettencourt, now 92, into giving him artwork, cash and other favors worth hundreds of millions of euros.

Sarkozy’s then-campaign treasurer, Eric Woerth, has been acquitted on charges of “abuse of weakness” and taking donations from Bettencourt during the 2007 presidential election campaign. Sarkozy himself was cleared in 2013 of preliminary charges.

The “Bettencourt Affair” ensnared French personalities as it made its way toward trial this year.

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