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Gucci Ex-Wife Guilty Of Murder

An Italian court on Tuesday found Patrizia Reggiani Gucci, the ex-wife of slain fashion mogul Maurizio Gucci, guilty of plotting to murder him in 1995 and sentenced her to 29 years in jail. Four co-defendants were also convicted.

The verdict came only hours after Patrizia Reggiani Gucci made a final appeal for mercy before a crowded courtroom, saying she was naive and involved in her former husband's murder against her will.

During the trial, she testified that she had wanted him dead.

The prosecution had asked for the maximum, which is a life sentence. But the panel of two judges and five citizens instead sentenced the 50-year-old Reggiani Gucci to 29 years in prison.

Reggiani, accused of murdering her ex-husband to gain control of his fortune, said after the verdict that her innocence would eventually be believed. "Truth is the child of time," she said, according to her lawyer.

Also convicted were Reggiani's longtime psychic adviser, Giuseppina Auriemma, a hotel doorman, a debt-ridden pizzeria owner accused of shooting Gucci, and an unemployed autoworker who prosecutors said drove the getaway car.

All but Gucci's ex-wife and the pizzeria owner confessed.

Auriemma was sentenced to 25 years in prison, the doorman got 26, the driver got 29 years. The pizzeria owner was sentenced to life.

Gucci, 46, was shot to death March 27, 1995, outside his Milan office. He was the grandson of Guccio Gucci, founder of the fashion company known for its leather goods and double "G" logo.

Maurizio Gucci was the last Gucci to hold a stake in the company, but he sold out for $120 million in 1993 after a long history of family discord.

With its sordid courtroom revelations about greed, betrayal, and shameless social climbing, the five-month trial has aired a seamy side of Milan, the chic capital of Italy's fashion industry.

Prosecution witnesses testified that Reggiani wasn't satisfied with her $860,000 a year in alimony and wanted all of her ex-husband's money. The couple had two daughters.

Pale and drawn, Reggiani pointed her finger Tuesday at Auriemma, whom she says arranged the murder, then blackmailed her for $375,000.

"I have been naive to the point of stupidity," she told the courtroom, which included her son and mother. "I found myself involved against my will. I deny categorically that I was an accomplice."

Reggiani said Auriemma used her to satisfy an obsessive hunger for money and power.

"Never let even a friendly wolf into the chicken coop. Sooner or later it will get hungry," she said.

Reggiani admitted threatening Gucci and repeatedly seeking someone to kill him, but says she never went through with the plan.

Auriemma admitted arranging Gucci's murder but testified that she did it at Reggiani's behest. She made no final statement Tuesday.

The driver of the getaway car, Orazio Cicala, and hotel doorman Ivno Savioni, who acted as a go-between, both made public pleas for forgiveness. Benedetto Ceraulo, the man who prosecutors said shot Gucci, again maintained his innocence.

"I've reflected a lot over these long months," Savioni told the court. "I know that I face many long years in prison for what I've done. I ask the pardon of Gucci's children and am horrified that things went so much farther than I intended."

©1998 CBS Worldwide Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report