In France Gangster cleared over 'heist of the century'

An organised crime boss in southern France was cleared on Wednesday of having a role in the "heist of the century" at a Riviera bank after being accused of writing about the robbery in a book.

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The case of France's "heist of the century" took an unexpected twist when Jacques Cassandri appeared to write a book in which he portrayed himself as the 1976 robbery's mastermind play

The case of France's "heist of the century" took an unexpected twist when Jacques Cassandri appeared to write a book in which he portrayed himself as the 1976 robbery's mastermind

(AFP/File)
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An organised crime boss in southern France was cleared on Wednesday of having a role in the "heist of the century" at a Riviera bank after being accused of writing about the robbery in a book.

Jacques Cassandri, a well-known figure in the Marseille underworld, was cleared on a charge of laundering the proceeds of the 1976 theft at a Societe Generale bank branch in the southern city of Nice.

The crime saw a gang of robbers tunnel through sewers to snatch the equivalent of 29 million euros ($35.7 million) from a bank vault, but it remained a mystery until Cassandri appeared to write about it in a 2010 book using the pen name D'Amigo.

After being put on trial by prosecutors who tried to use the book as evidence against him, Cassandri claimed the writing was fiction and denied any role in the crime, the proceeds of which have never been found.

Without sufficient evidence to convict him on the most serious charge of organised crime and money-laundering, the judge hearing the case in Marseille convicted him on more minor charges.

Cassandri, 74, was sentenced to 30 months in jail over his business activities for misusing company money, fraud, influence-peddling and undeclared work. He has previous convictions for drug-dealing, extortion and pimping.

His wife, daughter, son and daughter-in-law were also convicted on a range of fraud charges.

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