06 May Jail Sentence for Sophia Loren
1974 marked the beginning of an almost four-decade battle with the Italian tax authorities that has finally ended.
Seventy-nine-year-old Sophia Loren was declared to have been in the right by Italy’s supreme court over the calculation of tax that she paid on her 1974 earnings. Her accountants had calculated she should pay 60% as she was in a lower tax bracket, while the authorities claimed that 70% was due.
Loren appealed the court’s decision and stayed away from Italy for a few years, but she returned in 1982 when she served jail time in a low-security women’s prison. Although Ms. Loren was already a worldwide jet-setter in those times, she voluntarily surrendered in Italy. Rather than going to her stunning baroque villa owned by her and her husband, Carlo Ponti, her destination was far less glamorous: the women’s prison in Caserta, just outside her home town of Naples.
The Associated Press reported that fellow inmates and fans cheered Loren as she was led to her 15-foot-square private cell, which had a bed, a bathroom, and a television set. It was also painted pink, with an unbarred window that had a view over an enclosed courtyard. The small jail was run by nuns and made up of only ten cells, and inmates were allowed to wear their own clothes. There were a total of 26 inmates serving time for various crimes, from prostitution to even homicide.
However, a wave of irrepressible Italian cynicism led others to believe that it was all just a publicity stunt. They believed that the famous actress was sure to find herself in a luxurious cell, with wall-to-wall carpeting, flowers, and all the other trimmings.
The tax-related scandal saw Loren spend 17 days in the Italian prison as part of a one month sentence for tax evasion. When she left prison in 1982, the star was greeted by many journalists and fans. She said the sentence was unfair, and her accountant was the one who made a mistake on her tax return. The appeal has been crawling through the justice system ever since, until the Supreme Court ruled that Loren was right all along and should have never gone to jail.
Italy’s justice system is known to be notoriously slow, but her case has been drawn out even by their standards. However, she did not express any anger towards the conviction against her 40 years ago. Loren stated that when “It seems there is no longer any hope, it is still possible justice will be done.”
On the other hand, Loren’s lawyer, Giovanni Desideri, was less forgiving, calling the whole situation “Kafkaesque” (a reference to the surreal novels of Franz Kafka). He later asked for authorities to issue a formal apology.