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The Inside Track

Becker Avoids Jail, Is Fined $500,000

October 25, 2002|From Associated Press

MUNICH, Germany — Boris Becker was convicted of tax evasion Thursday but avoided jail time, sentenced instead to a fine and probation.

"I'm a free man, that's the important thing," Becker said in a prepared statement after he left the Munich state court without commenting. The three-time Wimbledon champion smiled briefly and shook hands with his lawyers when the verdict was delivered.

Becker, 34, was given two years' probation and fined $500,000, ending a 10-year investigation that he called "brutal" and said helped prompt him to quit tennis in 1999.

"I'm happy and relieved that this chapter is finally closed," his statement said. "This was my most important victory."

State attorneys had demanded Becker be sentenced to 3 1/2 years in jail for avoiding $1.7 million in taxes. Becker's lawyers argued that advisors, not their client, had misled authorities over his finances. Prosecutor Matthias Musiol said he hadn't yet decided whether to appeal.

Although Becker avoided serving time, the sentence added to his well-publicized problems since retiring from tennis in 1999. Those include a divorce from his wife, Barbara, fathering a child out of wedlock with a Russian model and a string of business failures.

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