Former French Prime Minister François Fillon was found guilty of using public funds to pay his wife and children for work they had never done.
His wife, Penelope Fillon, was also convicted of complicity. The Paris court which rendered the verdict has not yet detailed the sentence.
The family had received more than $ 1 million (£ 920,000) through construction since 1998.
The scandal erupted just three months before the country’s 2017 presidential election, when Fillon was the favorite in the race.
Destroying his reputation, he saw him descend to third place in the elections, won by Emmanuel Macron.
Fillon – French Prime Minister from 2007 to 2012 – and his wife have denied any wrongdoing and can appeal the decision.
The role of Penelope Fillon alongside her husband attracted all attention during the trial of February-March, which aimed to determine if her activities were in the traditional role of partner of an elected official or if they involved a real paid work .
Prosecutors asked for a five-year sentence for the former leader, while condemning his “fraudulent and systematic practices”.
They asked that he include a three-year suspended sentence and a fine of $ 375,000 (£ 304,693) against François Fillon, and a three-year suspended sentence and the same fine against his wife.
He had been accused of embezzlement of public funds, of having received money from the misuse of public funds and of the appropriation of the company’s assets. His wife was charged mainly with complicity.
Penelope Fillon had explained to the court how she decided to support her husband’s career when he was first elected as a French legislator in 1981 in the small town of Sable-sur-Sarthe, in the rural regions of western France.
She was later offered different types of contracts as a parliamentary assistant in the following years, depending on her husband’s political career.
She said that the work she had allowed her allowed her to have a flexible schedule and to raise their five children in the Fillons country manor, saying that it was her husband who had decided the details of her contracts. .
Prosecutors pointed to the lack of real evidence of her work, including the absence of a declaration for any paid leave or maternity leave, as her salary reached up to nine times France’s minimum wage.
Prosecutor Aurelien Letocart said that “meeting voters, taking children out of school, shopping or reading mail is not supposed to be paid work”.
Mr Letocart said that Fillon “had a deep feeling of impunity, the certainty that his status would dissuade anyone from pursuing him … It becomes cynical when this attitude comes from a man who has made probity his trademark “.
François Fillon insisted that his wife’s work was real and argued that, according to the separation of powers, the justice system cannot interfere with the way a legislator organizes work in his office.
The French National Assembly, which joined the proceedings as a civil complainant, demanded a total fine of $ 1.081 million, corresponding to the wages and social charges that were paid.
Fillon, who was the youngest legislator of the National Assembly at the age of 27, was Prime Minister under President Nicolas Sarkozy from 2007 to 2012.
Having also served as minister under two previous presidents, François Mitterrand and Jacques Chirac, he left French politics in 2017 and now works for an asset management company.