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Fiji Time: 5:04 AM on Thursday 24 April

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Old age saves man

Mere Naleba
Friday, December 07, 2012

A 74-YEAR-OLD charged with a count of making a false declaration, one of dishonestly causing a loss and another of obtaining financial advantage by deception will not serve his sentence in jail after High Court judge Prabaharan Kumararatnam set off his 24-month imprisonment sentence.

Franz Philip Devol, who used two aliases — Franz Anton Hapsburg and Franz Von Hapsburg — was handed a 12-month sentence for the first count, 18 months for the second and 24 months for the third to be served concurrently.

However, Judge Kumararatnam set off the 24-month sentence because of Devol's old age and ill health and that he had spent two years in prison before the trial.

The court heard that on March 13, 2009 Devol, who suffers from skin cancer, arrived in Fiji using a Republic of Honduras passport and received a visitor's permit valid for 30 days. Immigration officials later found out that the same man had visited the country sometime between March 10, 1999 and March 21, 2000 using the name Franz Anton Von-Hapsburg on a Costa Rican passport.

On the second count, the court heard that between August 1, 2010 and September 16, 2010, Devol obtained $US7500 ($F13,274) from a Stephen Mallerich after pretending the money would assist him in releasing $16million which was his inheritance.

He convinced Mr Mallerich that he was able to fund Mr Mallerich's proposed water park plans and other substantial returns once he received the inheritance which was in his mother's funds from an estate in China.

On the third count, it was heard in court that between September 8, 2010 and October 28, 2010, Devol further obtained $12,947.50 from Mallerich which he received through Western Union.

Despite contacting Devol, Mr Mallerich did not receive anything from him. The court heard to this day, Devol has not returned any money to Mr Mallerich.

Devol has 30 days to appeal his sentence.