LOS ANGELES – A filmmaking couple was sentenced Thursday to six months in prison, followed by six months of home detention, for bribing Thai officials so they could run the Bangkok International Film Festival.
Gerald Green, 78, and his 55-year-old wife Patricia were also ordered to jointly pay $250,000 in restitution.
In handing down the sentence, U.S. District Judge George Wu said the couple's crimes were "serious, but not as serious" as similar cases. Because Gerald Green suffers from emphysema, the judge reasoned that a prolonged prison sentence probably would adversely affect him.
The couple was convicted of conspiracy and money laundering charges in September. A jury found the couple had paid a former Thai tourism official about $1.8 million to secure the Bangkok film festival and tourism-related deals between 2002 and 2007 that earned them more than $13 million in revenue.
Prosecutors said the Greens created shell companies to pay off Juthamas Siriwan, the former governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand. The couple then transferred money into bank accounts of Juthamas' daughter and a friend so they would be awarded business contracts.
Juthamas has denied any wrongdoing and has not been charged in Thailand. She and her daughter have been indicted in Los Angeles with conspiracy and eight other counts. If convicted, they each face up to 20 years in prison.
Defense attorneys for the Greens denied the payments were bribes and questioned the prosecution's theory that the couple made a windfall from their work in Thailand.
The Greens are the first entertainment industry figures who have been convicted under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, a federal statute prohibiting corrupt payments to foreign officials for business purposes.
The Greens helped transform the festival into a rising star on the international circuit for screening new films, attracting the likes of Michael Douglas, Jeremy Irons and director Oliver Stone to Thailand.
Juthamas, who is no longer Thailand's tourism governor, ran for a parliamentary seat in 2007 but pulled out of the race after the allegations surfaced.
Gerald Green's career in Hollywood spans more than 30 years. He paired with Stone on "Salvador," which was nominated for two Academy Awards, and served as executive producer on the Christian Bale-led "Rescue Dawn" in 2006.
Douglas wrote a letter supporting the Greens, saying the couple "were extremely honest and fair in all of their dealings with me." Film producers Dino De Laurentiis and Mario Kassar also sent letters to the judge, pledging their support for Gerald Green.
The couple declined to address the court on Thursday.