Former French Prime minister Francois Fillon (R) and his wife Penelope Fillon (2nd-R) leave the Paris' courthouse on June 29,…
Former French Prime minister Francois Fillon and his wife Penelope Fillon leave the Paris' courthouse on June 29, 2020 after a ruling on a trial for embezzlement in the context of an alleged job fraud.

A Parisian court Monday found former French Prime Minister Francois Fillon guilty of using public money to pay his wife more than $1 million for work she never performed.

Fillon was sentenced to five years in prison — three years suspended — and fined more than $423,000. He is also barred from running for public office for 10 years. 

His wife, Penelope, was convicted as an accomplice. She was given a three-year suspended sentence and was also fined more than $423,000. Both are free pending appeal, which their lawyers say they will do.  

''Naturally, this decision, which is not fair, is going to be appealed. … The ludicrous conditions under which this investigation was triggered, the scandalous conditions in which the discovery was opened, the surprising conditions in which the investigation was then run," Fillion’s attorney Antonin Levy said. 

Penelope Fillion’s attorney, Pierre Cornut-Gentille, says prosecutors failed to determine whether her activities were simply traditional help and support a politician’s wife gives her husband.  

She said her duties included writing reports about local issues, reading mail, preparing speeches and meeting with voters — work she said allowed her to have a flexible schedule and still raise her children.  

Prosecutors argued that there was little evidence that Penelope Fillion ever worked and said her salary was excessive.  

Fillion’s lawyers argued that the state cannot interfere with how a politician sets up his office.  

The scandal broke shortly before the 2017 French presidential election where Fillon went from being the front-runner to finishing in third place.