Boris Becker sentenced to 2.5 years in prison for bankruptcy

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LONDON (AP) — Tennis great Boris Becker was sentenced Friday to two and a half years in prison for illicitly transferring large sums of money and concealing assets after being declared bankrupt.

The three-time Wimbledon champion was found guilty earlier this month of four counts under insolvency law and received a maximum sentence of seven years in prison.

Judge Deborah Taylor announced the sentence after hearing arguments from the prosecutor and Becker’s attorney.

The 54-year-old German was discovered to have transferred hundreds of thousands of dollars after his bankruptcy in June 2017 from his business account to other accounts, including those of his ex-wife Barbara and his ex-wife Sharley “Lilly” Becker.

Becker was also found guilty of failing to declare property in Germany and hiding a bank loan of 825,000 euros, or $871,000, and shares in a technology company.

The jury at Southwark Crown Court in London acquitted him on 20 other charges, including charges that he failed to hand over his numerous awards, including two Wimbledon trophies and an Olympic gold medal.

Becker, dressed in a striped tie in the purple and green colors of Wimbledon, entered the courthouse hand in hand with his girlfriend Lilian de Carvalho Monteiro.

The six-time Grand Slam champion has denied all charges, saying he cooperated with trustees tasked with securing his assets – even offering his wedding ring – and acted on expert advice.

At Friday’s sentencing hearing, prosecutor Rebecca Chalkley said Becker acted “deliberately and dishonestly” and that he “always sought to blame others.”

Defense attorney Jonathan Laidlaw pleaded for leniency, saying his client hadn’t spent the money on a ‘lavish lifestyle’, but rather on child support, rent and legal and professional fees. Becker, he told the court, suffered “public humiliation” and has no future earning potential.

Becker’s bankruptcy stems from a $5 million loan from a private bank in 2013, as well as about $1.6 million borrowed from a British businessman the following year, according to testimony At the trial.

During the trial, Becker said his $50 million in career earnings were eaten up by “expensive divorce” payments and debts when he lost much of his income after retirement.

Becker shot to fame in 1985 at the age of 17 when he became the first unranked player to win the Wimbledon singles title and went on to rise to number one. He has lived in Britain since 2012.

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