FC Bayern Munich President Uli Hoeness was convicted Thursday of evading an estimated 27.2 million euros ($37.7 million) in taxes and sentenced to three years and six months in prison.
The Regional Court II in Munich announced the verdict, which was handed down at the end of a four-day trial.
Prosecutors had been seeking a five-and-a-half-year prison sentence, while the defense called for the case be shelved or for the 62-year-old Hoeness to be given a sentence of less than two years, which would have allowed him to avoid prison time.
Hoeness' attorney, Hanns Feitgen, said he would appeal the sentence and that the club president will remain free for the time being.
Nevertheless, Hoeness is likely to step down as chairman of Bayern's Supervisory Board and may also resign as president of the reigning Bundesliga and Champions League kings, according to German media.
Hoeness was initially charged with evading 3.5 million euros ($4.9 million) in taxes, but the club president acknowledged on the first day of his trial that he had defrauded the German tax authorities out of more than 18 million euros ($25 million).
Based on the testimony of a tax inspector, that amount was raised to 27.2 million euros.
The unpaid taxes stem from profits Hoeness made in stock market speculations via a Swiss bank account.
After the collapse last year of a proposed tax agreement between Germany and Switzerland, Hoeness attempted to avoid trial by voluntarily disclosing the amount he had evaded.
Under German law, tax evaders who fully account for their wrongdoing and pay what they owe with interest can avert prosecution.
The court, however, found that Hoeness' voluntary disclosure was incomplete.
Hoeness' appeal will be based on the argument that a tax evader who has set his case in motion by voluntarily disclosing his tax dodging - albeit in incomplete fashion - should not be treated the same as one whose crimes were discovered by the authorities. EFE