Swindler of French aristocrats gets 8 years
PARIS (AP) - A man described as a modern day Rasputin was convicted on Tuesday of brainwashing three generations of an aristocratic French family for nearly a decade, swindling them of their fortune and their turreted manor.
Thierry Tilly, who was sentenced to eight years in prison by a court in Bordeaux, became a confidante of the landed Vedrines family in 2000 in a case that has both riveted and shocked the nation.
Over nine years, the man, whom local media dubbed "the guru", manipulated the family of 11 - aged from 16 to 89 - into believing there was a secret masonic plot against their lives, according to court testimony.
Family members were so convinced of his story that they locked themselves inside their chateau for several years, terrified that they would be killed. They sold their possessions - including the family manor - and handed over 4.5 million euros (S$7.17 million).