Thai former 'jet set monk' Wiraphon Sukphon given 114-year sentence

A former Thai monk, known as the "jet set monk" for his lavish lifestyle, has been convicted of crimes carry...

Posted: Aug 9, 2018 12:18 PM
Updated: Aug 9, 2018 12:18 PM

A former Thai monk, known as the "jet set monk" for his lavish lifestyle, has been convicted of crimes carrying a total prison sentence of 114 years, his lawyer told CNN.

Wiraphon Sukphon was found guilty of fraud, money laundering and computer crime, and sentenced to two to three years in prison for more than 40 complaints, lawyer Phanu Sookwanli said.

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However, under Thai law the maximum prison sentence for a combined set of charges against property is 20 years, so Wiraphon, who's in his late thirties, is likely to be released before he's 60.

His lawyers have 30 days to submit an appeal, or ask for an extension to appeal.

"He will remain in jail, but we are for sure going to appeal to the next court," Phanu said.

Wiraphon is also facing another criminal charge, of raping an underaged girl. The verdict for this is expected in October 2018.

He gained notoriety when he appeared in a YouTube video in 2013 holding wads of cash on a private plane. The disgraced former monk, who claimed to be the reincarnation of a respected monk who lived several decades ago, was accused of ignoring his Buddhist vows of celibacy and simple, moral living.

He was officially defrocked upon his return to Thailand in 2017 following a US court's ruling on an extradition request from Thailand's Department of Special Investigations (DSI). The arrest warrant for Wiraphon was issued in 2014, and local media reported that he was arrested in the US in 2016.

He owned at least 83 automobiles and a list of properties that include plots of land, houses and condominiums, according to the DSI. Donations over the past decade, from poor supporters as well as rich backers, had helped him amass his total wealth, according to investigators.

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