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Swindler of French aristocrats gets 8 years

Thierry Tilly targeted an aristocratic family.

AP

Thierry Tilly targeted an aristocratic family.

PARIS — A man described as a modern-day Rasputin was convicted Tuesday of brainwashing three generations of an aristocratic French family for nearly a decade, swindling them of their fortune.

Thierry Tilly, who was sentenced to eight years in prison by a court in Bordeaux, became a confidante of the landed Vedrines family in 2000.

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Over nine years, the man dubbed as ‘‘the guru’’ manipulated the family into believing there was a secret masonic plot against their lives, according to court testimony.

Family members were so convinced of his story that they locked themselves inside their chateau for several years, terrified they would be killed.

They sold their possessions — including the family manor — and handed over $5.7 million.

French media reported that the money was poured into a fake Canadian charity.

The French-born Tilly was convicted of arbitrary detention, using violence against vulnerable people, and abusing people weakened by ‘‘psychological subjection.’’

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